The art of Jason Wilsher-Mills is a smorgasbord of influences, ideas and a touch of modern technology, we delve into his work to find out more.
Originally from Yorkshire, Jason’s journey to becoming an artist is an unorthodox one. Having taught art at colleges for many years, health complications meant he sadly had to give up work. Confined to his bed with a rare, chronic illness which caused him a lot of pain, Jason’s art emerged after friends suggested he should start painting.
“I thought, I can’t paint, I’m in bed all day, I’m on medication, but my friends kept suggesting it. Eventually I got myself an iPad and found the means on there to create art. It’s all happened quite fast, I bought an iPad in December 2011 and I was exhibiting in America as part of a Pixar exhibition by April 2012. I realised I was going somewhere at that point and that’s when I decided to make a commitment. It’s almost as if it’s happened by accident, but it’s exciting!”
Jason creates a tremendous amount of work, which you will see Jason uploading onto his website and social media accounts on an almost daily basis.
He says: “I’ve created over a thousand pieces of work in three years because of the medium of the iPad, which shows you how useful I find it, but recently I’ve gone back to physically painting and the depth you can get from that is amazing.” As well as this, Jason works with schools on art projects, engaging pupils with iPad-dominated workshops.
“There’s a school I’ve been to several times in Barnsley that when I arrive, kids are pressed up against the school fence shouting to each other ‘It’s the iPad man!’, it’s great to see them so excited.”
Arts Council England has enabled Jason to provide these workshops with multiple iPads and his teaching methods play on engaging with kids’ passions and interests. Jason’s paintings themselves contain not only a central theme, but the close you look, the more is revealed. Every item on there has a personal meaning for Jason, whether it’s a model aeroplane, portraits of the Doctor from Doctor Who or a building painted in the background. His paintings are busy, but not so complex you can’t tell what is happening.
“I leave little clues in there for people to see what might be on my mind at the time, some of my paintings have little messages in for my children to perhaps work out when they are older.”
Sometimes, Jason’s personal struggle with his health takes hold. Particularly early on in his oeuvre, self-portraits are somewhat grotesque and intense, which reflects his feelings at the time.
“That was an attempt from me to show my family and friends what my illness was like.” Recently, Jason has been involved in a project to commemorate World War One in Sleaford. Jason will be working with four schools from the area; St Andrews Primary School Leasingham, Kirkby-La-Thorpe Church of England Primary School, Ruskington Winchelsea Primary School and Sleaford Church Lane School with 1000 pupils.
Each pupil will adopt an individual ‘hero’ from the conflict, which includes conscientious objectors from the time to ensure it is a truly inclusive project and will create art that will be included as part of a huge mural, which is going to be beamed onto the side of the town’s National Centre of Craft and Design.
People are encouraged to come forward with memories and stories from the war to share them with the children to bring them alive. Entitled ‘Sleaford Remembers’ the event will be free to attend and will take place on Remembrance Day on November 11th. Jason stresses they are still looking for sponsorship for some of the event, despite the Art Council funding part of it and DHE Professional LTd already having provided the stage.