Hard but fulfilling, exciting but terrifying, transitioning to life as a full-time artist has its challenges for Raumati South artist James Brewer.

But after pursuing jobs that didn't interest him, James is now getting ready for his first solo exhibition Reflection Continuum at Thistle Hall gallery in Wellington this December.

With his application for fine art school rejected, James studied a Bachelor of Arts in ancient history and film before holding down jobs administrative roles at an international school in Sweden and Victoria University in Wellington.

"While those jobs never interested me, they gave me the financial freedom to pursue art as a hobby."


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Featuring works exploring Wellington over the past 100 years along with a slightly whimsical depiction of what Wellington could look like in another 100 years, the concept of reimagining Wellington as it once was and what it could be, is one that inspires James.

It is these thoughts which have inspired his first solo exhibition.

"The fact that nowadays almost everyone has a high definition camera in their pocket means we all take photos for granted.

"So when I look at early photographs, particularly Wellington from the past hundred years or so, they almost don't seem real.

"They are historical snapshots void of life, soul, colour and energy."

Wanting to reimagine the streets, using dull photographs of the past and adding colour and life to them, James has spent the last six months working on the exhibition.

"I wanted to present a time-travel experience so that across a series of nine canvases the viewer can see over 100 years of history unfold in a way that is not hindered by the poor quality of early photography.


"Re-imagine Wellington as it once was by using vibrant colours, directional brush strokes for movement, adding elements of weather and playing with light and shadow.

"I wanted to give a glimpse of what has changed and what has stayed the same.

"I want to show how easy it is for us to forget we are creatures of history, and that where we are today is a reflection of where we have come from — that is the best predictor of where we are headed."

He has successfully exhibited at the annual New Zealand Art Show and has art in a number of places around New Zealand and the world.

"It's exciting and terrifying," James said of his first solo exhibition.

"Among the usual fears and doubts is the thought 'are these works to a quality that is representative of what I'm capable of?'. I always try to challenge myself to develop my skill."

The exhibition will be held at Thistle Hall gallery on Cuba St from December 10-15 with all works for sale.