The Boy and the Ballet

Exhibition dates: Wed 12 to Sat 29 March 2014
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Previous Exhibitions

The Damien Minton Gallery is honoured to present the fourth solo exhibition of new work by James Drinkwater. In this suite of paintings he continues to investigate concerns of intimacy and memory.

Life by the sea where he grew up, memory of childhood paralleled with new events that play out around the ocean and the table.

In 2013 Drinkwater began classical ballet to extend his practice both pictorially and lyrically. This discipline has become a mainstay and has influenced the colouring and iconography of this exhibition.

James has been a finalist for three consecutive years in the Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship Prize.


– James Drinkwater 2014

I swam with the boy In that pool by the sea
limbs laboured lazy in elegance
we resign to the heat
dark water, white blocks
we rehearse on the edge of Australia

peach skin clad with navy
the woman laps the sea dogs
wooly tooth mammals float and chant
small combs, soap cakes
small talk
death waits

from the table in the tower
the ocean fills the room
white lines bend and bow
to the edge of the tower window
and with wooden toys and boyish poise
the boy stands up to be praised
the meal, the news, the bath, the story
seduced by the ballet

like the factories of this town
memory clocks on and memory clocks off
it burns
like every summer was one long kiss
and all we ate was flowers and fruit
intimate navigation of life by the sea

down the goat track of the tower yards
I hear the piano start
and through the halls of the dance academy
the ballet begins without me
but late at night in sleeping quarters
I reacquaint with the woman
in exchanging notes for the pending day
for life with the boy
the boy and the ballet


“James Drinkwater’s paintings are distinctly his own. They are richly patterned like an intriguing carpet – the shapes varied and inventive, the colour subtle with strong contrasts of light and dark and warm sonorous passages.

The shapes dance – the movement of the boy dancing or of the sea?

There are glimpses of the ocean, the beach, the dark rocks or the shadows in a room.

As James says they are about memory and intimacy and one’s eye can wander through the paintings imagining a multiplicity of images in this richly layered world”.



Newcastle, NSW


2001National Art School, Sydney Australia

Solo exhibitions

2013Conductors Project, St James and Museum Station, Sydney2012Damien Minton Gallery, Redfern- The Ocean Parade2011Damien Minton Gallery, Redfern- Nostalgia for nothing2010Brooding Town – Iain Dawson Gallery, SydneyPostage Paid Berlin, Cooks Hill Galleries, Newcastle 2009Poor Boy – Fortyfive Downstairs, Melbourne 2008I knew I knew You -Cooks Hill Galleries, Newcastle 2006Wash me clean – Cooks Hill Galleries, Newcastle 2005New Work – Volume Gallery, Newcastle 2004Vintage – Damien Minton Gallery, Newcastle New Paintings – Maunsell Wicks, Sydney 2003Mark Making – NAS, Newcastle

Group exhibitions

2013Sydney Contemporary Art FairWorking Newcastle, University of NewcastleMarked, Cessnock Regional Art GalleryEternity, Damien Minton Gallery, Redfern2012King School Art Prize Exhibition, SydneyCollectors Choice – University of NewcastleYoung Collectors – John Buckley Gallery, MelbourneTraces – Leipzig Art Fair, Germany31 Pillows, Damien Minton Gallery, SydneyFive Bells – Damien Minton Gallery, SydneyThe Great Australian Landscape2011Dobell Drawing Prize – Art Gallery of New South WalesEnd of programme Exhibition – Leipzig, GermanyKurz und Wichtig – Leipzig, GermanyEngels – Berlin PLS Manifesto, GermanyBrett Whiteley Finalists Exhibition, SydneySalon Des Refuses, Sydney10 Years ago – Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney2010A perfect day to chase tornados (White) – Australian Artists show in Berlin48hours Neukolin – Berlin2009Group Show – Libby Edwards Gallery, Melnourne2007Drinkwater & KInnane – Cooks Hill Galleries, Newcastle2004These are a few of my favourite things – Damien Minton Gallery, Newcastle2003A collection of paintings – Alder Gallery,Surry Hills, Sydney2002Trinity Grammar Watercolour Show – Summer Hill, Sydney


2013Doug Moran portrait prize – Semi FinalistBrett Whiteley Traveling Scholarship, Finalist, Highly Commended2012King School Prize – FinalistBrett Whiteley Traveling Scholarship, Finalist2011Dobell Drawing Prize, FinalistBrett Whiteley Traveling Scholarship Highly Commended – FinalistMarten Bequest Traveling Scholarship – WinnerSalon Des Refuses – Finalist2002John Olsen National Art School Life Drawing Prize2001Newcastle Mattara Festival Painting Prize1998Gould League Environmental Prize1996Reg Russom Life Drawing Prize – Finalist1995Reg Russom Life Drawing Prize – Finalist

Selected Publications

2013 The Telegraph ‘Inspiration comes out of Africa’, July 22 Newcastle Herald, Weekender, ‘Domestic outpouring’, June 292012Sydney Morning Herald – ‘Five Bells’, FebruarySydney Morning Herald = ‘The Great Australian Landscape’, January2011Hunter Lifestyle Magazine, NovemberThe Arts Diary, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 MarchFine Arts Department, Newcastle Tafe: Speaker, 25 MarchNational Art School, Speaker – ‘Berlin, We didn’t just go there for a hair cut’, 23 MarchSpectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 MarchThe Australian Financial Review – ‘City of Freedom’, 17 March2010The Spectator Magazine – ‘Ich bin ein Berliner – Creative Australians are finding in the German capital the creative freedom they lacked at home’, JanuaryReal Living Magazine– ‘Best of the best art works’, JulyABC National Radio – ‘Expatriate of the week’, AprilNewcastle Herald, 27 MarchNewcastle Herald – ‘At home in Berlin’, 19 MarchArt review – Newcastle Weekender Magazine, 27 MarchNewcastle Herald – At Home in Berlin, 19 March2009Expressionist – MX Melbourne City Rail Newspaper, 27 AprilSuffering for his art – Star Newspaper Melbourne, 28 AprilDrinking it up – Newcastle Weekender Magazine, 14 June2007Newcastle Herald


2013 Lake Macquarie City Gallery – in conduction with Christo: John Kaldor Family Collection artist rooms2012 Titjikala Art Centre NT (National Art School)Freestone print studio, Gippsland, Victoria Familia Mojo Family orphanage, Nairobi, Kenya, January – February2011Leipzig International Art Programme (LIA), Germany


Macquarie Group Collection
The Newcastle Art Gallery
University of Newcastle
Catholic Education Office, NSW, Australia
St Francis Xavier College, Newcastle
Warner Music Australia
Private collections in New York, Singapore, Germany, Australia