James Farley: creating art in the regions

James Farely at Broken Hill Arts Exchange

James Farley at Broken Hill Arts Exchange. Image courtesy James Farley.

“I’m not someone who ever thought I needed to move to a big city to find opportunities. There are opportunities in regional areas too, you just have to be creative and find them,” said James Farley, age 25, one of sixteen NSW artists recently awarded the inaugural Young Regional Artist Scholarship (YRAS).

The scholarship supports young artists and arts and cultural workers from regional NSW between 18-25 years old to undertake a self-directed professional development program or project in any artform.

James recently ran a series of solar photography workshops in Broken Hill to share his practice with locals and other community members interested in photography and environmental art.

“It was perfect timing, as the Broken Hill Art Exchange is currently holding the Desert Equinox, a festival devoted to solar art,” James said. He had a positive experience while applying for funding.

“I found many people in the community willing to help young artists and it was great to focus my ideas into one project and define exactly what I wanted to do.”

How did he get interested in photography?

“My passion for photography began in high school,” James said. “As part of my university studies in photography and artistic practices, I went on an exchange program in the States. It was there my focus shifted to seeing art as a form of learning and research rather than just in a commercial sense.”

James, a passionate advocate for the environment and climate change wants to explore the complexities behind these themes and help people understand it better using experimental art. “I often build my own cameras and use alternative materials and processes to create different types of images,” he said.

James Farley exhibition at the Broken Hill Art Exchange, 2015. Photo: James Farley.

James Farley exhibition at the Broken Hill Art Exchange, 2015. Photo: James Farley.

A career highlight for James was being selected to visit England as a shortlisted artist in the World Photography Organisation Student Focus Prize. He participated in a couple of projects in London, and received a portfolio review with industry leading experts. “Although I didn’t win, this was a really good experience,” he said.

As part of his scholarship, James attended a 2-day professional development and networking event organised by Arts NSW where he had a chance to meet with the other winners.

“I found it beneficial to know and connect with other NSW artists who were there. It’s great for building regional networks, supporting each other over long distances and perhaps collaborate on other projects in the future.”

“I also liked meeting the staff from Arts NSW who were really accommodating. It made them more approachable and less daunting to someone like me who lives and comes from a regional area,” James said.

James is looking forward to completing his PhD and following up on experiences he had in Broken Hill as part of his residency in the next few years. “I like the idea of my artistic practice being integrated into the community and helping people find their passion and understand environmental themes.”

“My favourite part of working in Broken Hill was seeing the sense of community that exists in a town going through such a traumatic time right now. People are working together to find a solution and I’m extremely impressed by it,” he said.

What’s his advice for anyone wishing to apply for the scholarship?

“I encourage anyone with an idea to apply because taking the time to think and write down ideas on paper is an important step in knowing what you really want to do. Contact different people in your community who can help you make your application as strong as possible – you don’t have to do it all on your own.”

“Art plays a big role in helping people understand and tell their story. You can’t have a community without art and vice versa,” said James on the value of arts to regional communities.


Round two of the Young Regional Artist Scholarship program is now open. For further information, please click here.

Applications close on Tuesday 1 February 2016.



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