Arts + Creativity

James Henry

Posted 16 Mar 18

Where are you from, who’s your mob?

Been living in Melbourne 11 years now. Born and raised in the Inner West of Sydney. My Grandparents are Yorta Yorta/Yuin and Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay countries.

Has music always been a big part of your life?

Growing up, music was always there, but sport was what I was really excited about. I started focusing more on music from my 20’s when I realised that I enjoyed the hard work involved in making music more than I did with playing sports.

You are taking some time off from photography to focus on your music, what are your plans?

I am doing a fellowship through the Victorian College of the Arts to learn more about traditional Aboriginal music and try to find ways to incorporate elements of it into contemporary genres and contexts to help maintain and spread culture.

How did you first get into photography?

I used to get throw away cameras when I would go traveling as a young fulla. Year 12 gave me a taste of what it was like to shoot with an SLR and edit in a darkroom at school. When I was 30 I bought my first DSLR and never looked back. I volunteered to shoot at a lot of events, got good at it and got my name around the place doing that.

Why are positive images of our people important?

As the media tend to focus on negative images and stories, it is nice to restore that balance. It also helps promote positive role models and positive life choices for our young people. I like the idea that down the track that people can look back at their elders and ancestors and what great things they were doing.

How important is it to have various creative outlets?

Creativity can take up a lot of your time and energy. You can burn out focusing on one thing for too long. Having another outlet keeps things fresh and keeps you in work. Being freelance in different fields allows you to fill in your calendar as you wish too, which can be easier than committing to a full or part-time job to do along with your arts practice.

How do you balance different passions and creative pursuits?

I tend to let where the work is decide where I am to go and what to do. Photography work is usually short projects and music projects tend to take up a bit more time. With the longer projects I get to block that out in my diary a bit longer ahead of time. With this fellowship that I am doing at the moment, I have had to be consciously aware of the amount of time I left open to do it justice. I tried having a break from weekend sport to focus on my arts practice a few years back, but found I didn’t enjoy the balance in my life. Now I play sports again on the weekend and it’s what I look forward to the most each week. Travel is what I look forward to most each year.