“An author could write a novel around your miniature stages!”
James [Jim] Pridham is an artist inspired by the maritime history and novel architecture of the greater San Francisco Bay Area where he has lived for over fifty years. He expresses his inspiration through a very old and universally popular art form, creating in miniature. At showings, his work evokes a series of predictable reactions; a disbelieving double-take and a closer look, followed by amazement, then expressions of delight.
After college, he began experimenting with different mediums to express his creativity. He discovered that there were two characteristics common to all the artwork that he most liked -- detail and realism. He appreciated two-dimensional artwork but felt shortchanged by the way the artist must deceive the eye to create the illusion of depth. He reasoned that realism can only be achieved in three-dimension. He discovered that, along with an appreciation of realism, extreme detail was almost of equal importance. So, the diorama became the solution -resolving his need to create realism and detail. His approach to “creating detail” is simple; he treats every piece as equally important – and equally visible.
Jim prefers to hand-fashion parts. He is an artist of the old school; stubbornly adhering to the literal definition of hand-made. Occasionally, he will modify objects that he finds in daily life -- broken wristwatch parts, discarded jewelry, old electronic equipment and such. He does not see these objects in the role for which they were originally designed; instead he sees a shape and size that approximate his design needs. The art world calls this form of art, Assemblage (pronounced, Ah-sem-blaj). It defines artwork made from modified found or recycled parts;… a cone-shaped wooden salt shaker becomes a lighthouse. A friend and fellow artist simply calls it, shape shopping. The few purchased items are rarely used without extensive modification. He also hand-crafts many of his own tools, jigs and has developed his own painting, wood-staining and weathering/aging techniques.
A notable characteristic running through all of Jim’s dioramas is the absence of human and animal figures. He found their rigid mannequin-like appearance distracting and confining to the viewer’s imagination. Instead, he fills the work with a clutter of things that subtly emphasize the presence of people. He is old enough to remember Radio-Theater and how it required listeners to use their imagination to “picture” the story. Likewise, his dioramas encourage viewers to envision their own characters and tales within his settings. At a showing in Monterey, CA. a gallery patron commented, “An author could write a novel based around your miniature stages.”
His dioramas - from concept through completion - require creativity, energy, skill, and determination. To keep the creative juices flowing -- and his hands busy in between the more ambitious dioramas, Jim has turned to what he calls WHIMSICAL projects. These are short-term creations, taking anywhere from an afternoon to several months depending on complexity. They run the gamut from a play on words to….well, take a look and describe them yourself……..
Jim's RESUME as PDF (available for printing)