May Banner Designer: James ‘Bo’ Davis

James 'Bo' Davis

Cool banner Bo! *does the rock salute* What made you choose this theme?

The theme for this banner was selected because, if I’m not mistaken, Live at Leeds is probably Leeds’ biggest event in May. Plus, it was already on my mind, as I’m playing in the Live at Leeds 5-a-side football tournament on Monday with friends from the band ‘The Chevin’.  I chose to produce a lino cut because I have 3 excellent artists in the gallery that use lino cutting as their preferred medium. I’ve not produced a lino cut since GCSE art and have wanted to give it a go for years, so I thought to myself “Do It! Do it, cut the lino, Do It!”

Thanks for doing it. Tell us about how StudioSeven began please!

Well, let me cast my mind back… Ah yes, the winter of 2009. ‘Twas the season I thought Otley could do with a new art gallery! My dad owned a shop in the centre of town. The premises had just been vacated and had been left in a bit of a state, so I tiled the floor, hired a plasterer, fitted some new lighting, added a lick of paint. Two weeks later it was ready for business.  I had a series of pop art portraits to exhibit and I knew a couple of local artists also looking for somewhere. We opened on the 2009 Otley Victorian Fayre weekend and drank a lot of mulled wine.  StudioSeven now has over 10 resident artists and with the launch of the new website, we now have room for a lot more.

What is it like being an artist in Otley? Is there a good creative scene in the local area?

Otley is a strange but loveable little town and unless I’ve been misinformed, was where the League of Gentlemen based ‘Royston Vasey’. If you wander round the market on a Friday you’ll know what I mean.  But back to the question, yeah I think Otley has always had a strong creative presence. The famous Wharfedale printing press was invented and manufactured in Otley back in the mid-19th century, helping to revolutionise the printing industry. Amongst other things it was used to produce the bank notes of its day. But enough of the history lesson! Today we have a couple of art galleries and many small interesting independent shops, which to me can also be regarded as part of a creative community. We also have Otley Courthouse and the Woolpack Arts Centre both offering a wide range of facilities from workshops, theatre, live gigs to recording studios.

You work alongside your family members in the gallery. Which famous family are you most like and why?

The Royal family, or is it the Royle family?

A lot of your work is in the style of Pop Art. Is there anything particular in today’s popular culture that inspires you?

Monroe by James Davis, modified by Russell Mellor
Monroe by James Davis, modified by Russell Mellor

There’s not one area in particular. I’m inspired by pretty much anything – friends, family, music, nature, architecture, literature, travelling, comedy, art, graphic design, advertising, illustration, food, TV. Not always directly but it registers somewhere. My taste in art is definitely modern and contemporary. I’ll always appreciate the old masters, but I wouldn’t want to hang a Rembrandt in my own living room, even if I could afford one. I get a lot more satisfaction seeing something fresh and innovative.

If you could sell anyone’s art at StudioSeven, whose would it be?

I wouldn’t mind selling Damien Hirst’s Diamond encrusted skull or maybe ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch. Which is worth the most?! Apart from the fact they’d both help pay the bills, I’m not overly interested in selling named artists. I’d rather help up and coming artists by giving them some encouragement and a place to sell and exhibit their work. In fact over the past two years we’ve had several talented students from Leeds Met and Leeds College of Art & Design volunteering part time in the gallery. It’s more of an attractive proposition than a voluntary work placement. If a piece of theirs sells on their days of work, they go home with 100% of the sale. So there’s more of an incentive to work other than a bonus for the CV. We’re always looking for new students wanting to volunteer, exhibit and sell their work at StudioSeven.

When you see a red door, do you want to paint it black?

It depends whether or not I’m carrying my black paint pot with me… Actually that reminds me – a few friends and I did once hatch a plan to paint a white house red. If we’d have gone through with it I wouldn’t be telling you but as we bottled I may as well. It was on the eve of England playing their first match of the 2006 football World Cup. We decided to paint a big red cross on the front of the White House on Otley Chevin so that when the sun rose the following morning a giant England flag would have miraculously appeared on the hillside amongst the trees. As it turned out, when we arrived – paint bucket in hand – we were greeted by a CCTV camera. Naively we hadn’t anticipated this so we cancelled project ‘white house’ and went back home. Probably a wise move…

Painted faces, Fainted groupies or Tainted love?

All equate to a good night in Leeds!


StudioSeven is open from 10.30am-5.00pm Thursday – Saturday

Students wanting to volunteer, exhibit and sell their work at StudioSeven should contact Bo for more information.

7 Newmarket, Otley, LS21 3AE

Twitter: @studiosev7n Facebook: