The Prayer Machines of James Paterson

"Sometimes I felt Weightless when I was Flying down my street" (Available off site)

Just under a year ago, I attended the 2019 Artist Project with my youngest Louise in tow. Here, we came across this magical booth of art. It was unlike any other booth. It had playful sculptures made out wire and full of colour.

The artist James Paterson was a warm welcome and encouraged me to play with his sculpture. Turning different cranks, giving them a little push to create wobble and simply move around each creation for different perspectives. (A good sculpture in my books has many good sides.) We bonded instantly over discovery and love for whimsy art, as well as having a little one around as they were expecting a grandchild shortly. (There was even the suggestion that I trade little Louise for a sculpture… tempting, but I had worked pretty hard on sculpting her myself.) It was in this memorable interaction that I knew I had to share Paterson’s work with the Hamilton art community. My first curated exhibit back from maternity leave, I included Paterson’s work in “PIGMENTS”. Hamilton embraced him with mutual love for whimsy, and naturally we have made Paterson a Gallery Artist at Earls Court Gallery.

To formally introduce James Paterson, we see it fit to do a little Artist Q&A. So enjoy getting to know Paterson and drop by the gallery to see the works we have in the gallery.

--Curator Andrea Jackman


When did you first become interested in art?

I’ve always been interested from as long ago as I can remember.

What mediums do you work with?

Steel wire, steel flat stock, paint, polymers and resin. Very mixed media.

How has your artistic practice changed over time?

In my spirit and approach, it is very much the same as when I was a young boy. I like to build with my hands the things I see in my mind. In practise though, I’ve gone from a two-dimensional expression to a more three dimensional one that incorporates motion.

"A New Frontier"

What are you working on right now?

Two new series: One a bit more abstract  than the Prayer Machines that I’m calling “Wirings” or “Wire Loop” pieces.

The other series is a bit more representational and draws on memories of being a boy growing up and uses an illustrative style from the 50’s – 60’s combined with the twisted wire and wheels from the Prayer Machines. Both series are framed, and wall mounted though still using steel.  It’s a nice evolution.

What kind of experience do you want the viewer to walk away with?

A sense wonder at God’s redemptive nature in the beauty of what His created creatures create.


What inspires your work?

Machines that move; where you can see the moving parts- especially ones that are belt driven.

Which artist/s have influenced your work the most throughout your career?

Rene Magritte, Howard Finster, William Heath Robinson, James Spencer, Jean Tinguely, and Monty Python.

What drives you to working large?

There is something to be said for scale; especially with my stand alone pieces. I like the viewers encounter with my work to be like that of meeting another person and standing with them. As if they have a relationship. I intentionally place the crank handles, which animate my moving pieces, at the same height where you would shake hands with someone.

"Saturday Morning"

Can you tell us about the sacrifices and reward of a long artistic Career?

The reward has been a life of exploring and making material my ideas, thoughts and wonderments. Seeing people delight in what I’ve done and being told I’ve made real something they felt but couldn’t express or put into words or a picture on their own.

The sacrifice has been the agonizing process of surrendering myself to God’s scalpel and chisel as He has cut and chip away  my will and self so I could become the person He wants me to be, to do this work, which is what I want to do; but have to do His way not mine if its going to be successful the way He wants.

What would you like others to know about your art that you think is unique?

I hope they see it or sense already when they encounter my pieces. Primarily joy and delight!

What is your dream project?

A large moving object the you can be inside or enter. Perhaps with some ladders, narrow cat walks and many moving parts in motion all around you.

If you were not an artist, what would you be and why?

Probably very frustrated and repressed or perhaps a runner.

If you could give a younger artist some advice what would it be?

Learn to run a business and use good business practice if you want to be able to do your art full time. Partner with those who can do what you can’t. Focus your time on the things only you can do. Get others to do the rest as much as possible.

Last words or Quote: Creating is an act of faith and faith is taken to its limit so it can expand.



"It so Happened that I love you" (available off site)

View James Paterson Page

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I was forwarded your blog info by my Friend Kelly O’Donnell — I love your comment about the sacrifices… I have a similar process with writing… I do my best work when God speaks his words through me… Love and blessings to you. Barb

Barbara DeGrand

Have visited his studio and bought a painting. I love his machines. Some are political. Studio still inOakville?.

CAllie aRcher

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