Catherine James’ practice is grounded in print and combines traditional techniques with digital technologies to produce works made with paper, textiles and film. For this exhibition Catherine has worked on a series of panels, presented here as a single piece. Each panel is based on an individual photograph of a single pathology slide from a human brain specimen prepared a century ago by pathologists at St Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington DC. The photographs were taken by Jon Malis, who has made them available via the Wellcome Collection (CC BY-NC 4.0).
In a series of actions that mimic the original process of dissection and slide preparation, Catherine digitally cut each image into multiple sections. These were merged into a new whole, reconstituted, and separated again into sections. Each section has been printed onto flax linen, and then stitched into a panel that represents one original slide and photograph. Finally, the panels were stitched together to produce one single work. Flax is a natural material, and its net-like fibres resemble human tissue. The fibres are highly mobile; this aspect of the materiality of flax introduces an element of spontaneity beyond the artist’s control.
Catherine trained as an academic Obstetrician and Gynaecologist before completing a Fine Art Foundation diploma (Morley College, Distinction) and an MA in the History of Art (Courtauld Institute of Art, Distinction). Both clinical and historical training influence her creative work. Catherine is currently working on a London Arts and Humanities Partnership (AHRC) project focused on early printed material in the rare book collection at the Royal College of Physicians.