Born in Glasgow in 1948, James is the only son of parents who worked as carpet designers at Templeton’s Carpet Factory in Glasgow. His earliest memory of a painting is by Picasso of a lady whom he firmly believed to be his mother. James enjoyed drawing and painting at school but not much else and in 1966, without any formal qualifications, he was accepted unconditionally at Glasgow School of Art, where he stayed until 1970, and where, he says he would have been happy to stay for the rest of his life.
James paints in gouache with a delicate touch and a faultless technique. His paintings have an obsessive quality, they are witty and enigmatic and depict an erotic, fetishistic intensely private world. He admires many artists, in particular George Grosz, Hans Bellmer, Chaim Soutine and Paul Delvaux.
Now retired from teaching he can devote himself to the strange worlds of Fernando Rey and his associates.