About Katherine James
Katherine James graduated with a 1st from a BA in Art and Design from the University of Leeds in 2020. In the same year, she won the Berkofsky Art Prize and was also selected to appear in Future Edit; The Craft Council’s showcase of graduate contemporary craft.
Katherine remains based in Leeds as a practising artist, producing and selling work from her home-based studio.
Her making process is material-led, as she often seeks to expand contemporary craft techniques; creating new processes and ways to make meaning from matter. Therefore, her practice freely ranges between materials, becoming jewellery, sculpture and photographic works. Her practice is concerned with both social sustainability and cultures of consumption.
Katherine James’ practice involves crafting chainmail into lace-like sculptures, wearable art and jewellery. She seeks to challenge binary notions of gender by combining these materials which are considered to have opposing associations and materiality. Chainmail is protective, hard and aggressive. These are typically considered as masculine traits. Whereas lace is seen as delicate, pretty, seductive and associated with femininity. By combining these conflicting properties into one object, the piece embodies the true complexity and nuance of gender identity.
On a secondary level, gendered attitudes within craft are also being explored. A direct comparison is drawn between the metallic links of chainmail and the fibre-based links of crochet-lace, revealing how the processes are remarkably similar.
Katherine sees the human-scale of her sculptural work “Lace Armour” as an expansion of her jewellery practice. This piece both obscures and adorns the view of the people and environments it is placed in, as well as dictating how space is navigated by screening and separating. This illustrates how societies understanding and attitudes to gender create a filter through which people and events are interpreted.