James McCallum has a Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours from the National Art School (2011) and an Associate Diploma of Music Teaching for the trumpet (2017). He has been teaching art classes at the Lane Cove Art Gallery and music to primary school students including the trumpet, trombone, euphonium and tuba.
McCallum has a particular interest in the abstract sculpture of the 1950s and 1960s. Since completing his Bachelor’s degree, he has regularly exhibited in major public sculpture prizes, including Sculpture By The Sea (the world’s largest, annual, public, sculpture exhibition)(2011, 2014 and 2018), Sculpture at Sawmillers (2016), Sculpture in the Vineyards (2012) and Harbour Sculpture (2014 and 2017). McCallum’s work is included in the Luca Belgiorno-Nettis private collection, Ron Kaplan private collection and the Shoalhaven Art Collection. Between 2013 and 2016, McCallum was represented by Maunsell Wickes Gallery and contributed to a number of group exhibitions. McCallum has been the recipient of the Clitheroe Mentorship Program and has been an artist in residence at Sydney Olympic Park.
McCallum makes sculptural work that challenges the history of abstract sculpture from the 1950s and 1960s. Having an interest in the relationship between art and architecture, he has experimented with modern aesthetics of architecture and how it can be used to create context and dynamic spaces in sculpture. Having been strongly influenced by Anthony Caro, Issac Witkin and Ron Robertson Swann he has looked to build upon their methods of hard-edge abstraction and how they interpret ideas of expressing weight, compression, volume, lightness and colour in sculpture.
McCallum has enjoyed working with a very wide range of materials from acrylic, plasticine, foam core to heavy materials such as concrete, wood and steel, all integral to the natural character of a work. For exterior sculpture McCallum has recently been using concrete, as it offers a neutral and heavy character and a reference to modern construction, whereas for small, interior pieces, impermanent materials such as plastic, plasticine, clay and paper has provided McCallum with the freedom to make work vibrant, malleable and experimental.
Having lived and grown up in Sydney, Australia McCallum reflect’s on the fast-pasted urban development that continues to grow. Living and working in the western suburbs, McCallum has noticed the environment of residential denitrification and population increase drastically. This has led to McCallum to move towards a clean and hardedge characteristic.
There is no doubt that there are controversial aspects of housing development in Sydney. The cosmetic and unreliable infrastructure that is being made allows for efficiency and fast growth. The bases of McCallum’s sculpture is not intended to make any derogatory statements towards the ecological responsibilities, rather to allow audiences to question the impacts of technology.