"Operating in the vestibule between several areas peddling a deluxe amalgamation."


Contemporary Artist, Performance Artist, Experimental Poet, Theatre Director, Arts Organiser, Identity Politician, Private Investigator, Solicitor, Actor

James Alexander McKenzie is from Edinburgh. James is dedicated to the subversion and advancement of disciplines in the arts. He moves between performance art, poetry, and theatre. In his ‘poetry-plays’, James blends, and blurs the boundaries of, poetry, painting, theatre, spoken word, performance art, installation, sculpture, and stand-up comedy. Presently, he is focused on his ‘poetry-play’ Jimmy Mack the Shapeshifting Jester. In 2023, James founded Red Hot Pecker, a ‘theatre’ company and arts-organisation: he describes it as, “a vehicle for me to do things.”

Wry humour; parody; absurdity; obscenity; self-absorption; metatheatrical devices; a relationship with art - these are trademarks of James’ work. He often exhibits installations of sculptural mixed-media paintings which double up as theatrical scenery in live performances. His methodology developing these installations is characterised by intuition, spontaneity, and experimentation. ‘Anti-aesthetics’ describes the style of his visual work: loose with media; rough-and-ready; at odds with typical ideas of beauty. Lived experiences amount to a to a portion of the fragments that inform James’ work. Other sources include books, art exhibitions, music, film, theatre, and folklore.  Collage is an essential technique in both his painting and writing practices.

Early in his career as an artist, James worked with children and people with disabilities, often leading art workshops. This period led to an appreciation of the participating artists unselfconsciousness and unrestrained use of media which was pivotal in discovering his own liberated approach.

James has exhibited, performed publicly and lead ‘cut-up’ poetry workshops at galleries including the Royal Scottish Academy, the Scottish National Gallery, Embassy Gallery, generatorPROJECTS, Summerhall, Sett Studios, Volk Gallery and Orkney’s Pier Arts Centre. He has been the recipient of several awards for his work including a bursary from the RSA Residencies for Scotland scheme (2019) and the RSA Carnegie Scholarship for ‘painting’ for his work in RSA New Contemporaries (2018). His poems have appeared in Outcrop Poetry, Wrong Directions, New River Press, Littoral Magazine, Polemical Zine, and he has self-published several pamphlets. He graduated from Dundee University in 2017 in Art and Philosophy and moved to London for a period to study at Goldsmiths University on the MFA Fine Art programme between 2021 and 2022. James has completed residencies in Orkney with the Pier Arts Centre in partnership with the RSA (2019), and in Collemacchia with the Museum of Loss and Renewal (2023). His work is held in a number of public and private collections.




2021-2022: MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths University (studies interrupted)

2014-2017: Art and Philosophy BA at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee (graduated with honours first class)  

2012-2013: General Foundation at Leith School of Art, Edinburgh


2023: VACMA Award

2021: Department of Art Bursary, Goldsmiths  University

2021: Scottish International Educational Trust grant

2019: £5000 awarded from RSA Residencies for Scotland scheme to undertake a residency at the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney to focus on a collaborative project with Daniel O'Dempsey 

2018: RSA New Contemporaries Carnegie Scholarship for painting 

2017: RSA New Contemporaries 2018 Selected Artist  

2017: James Guthrie Orchar Memorial Art Prize, Dundee University 

Selected Exhibitions, Performances, Workshops and Residencies

2023: Legends in the Game, two-person exhibition with William Sherval, Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh

2023: Flaw Foik, multi-venue visual art, performance and live music event with costumed procession, Edinburgh

2023:Taking Time, artist residency with The Museum of Loss and Renewal,Collemacchia

2023: Decoy House 2.0, two-person performance and installation art event with Astrid Batts, Sett Studios, Edinburgh

2023: Jimmy Mack Follies Variation, Embassy Gallery’s Members Show, Edinburgh

2023: Jimmy Mack Follies Variation, GENERATORprojects’ Members Show, Dundee

2022: Decoy House, open house DIY exhibition with Damien Thirst, Edinburgh

2022: Jimmy Mack Follies, avant-garde poetry-play, seven performances, part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Natural Food Kafe, Edinburgh

2022: Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn Act 4, collaborative performance with Daniel O'Dempsey, event accompanies work in Scotland Small? exhibition, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

2022: (With Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn) Premiere screening of Glen Thomson's documentary film Orcadia: A Fenris and Ragnar Story  and Q&Aevent accompanies work in Scotland Small? exhibition, Hawthornden Lecture Theatre at The Scottish National Gallery/Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

2022: (With Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn) Scotland Small?, new bodies of work from eight artists supported by the RSA Residencies for Scotland programme, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

2022: I'll Have Another, live performance at The Grass is Always Greener on the Sa-Lawn opening, Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh

2021: Tides that Bind, Tides that Break, poetry reading at private view, Aberdour

2021: Farewell My Darlings, theatrical poetry reading with visual art backdrop (solo show), St. Margaret's House, Edinburgh 

2021: Sum Poems, 50 poetry tape-cassettes, Volk Gallery, Dundee

2021: The Soapworks Residencies, two day mini-residency and live performance with Hidden Door, Edinburgh

2021: Something’s Brewing…, virtual experimental poetry workshop for MFA students of the Royal College of Art, London

2021: Life After Art School, virtual artist talk for students of Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen

2020: Nobility Pursuit, solo show at the G16 Exhibition Space, St. Margaret's House, Edinburgh

2020: Live spoken word performance at Lewis Bissett and Jamie Watt's exhibition Beta Blockers exhibition opening party, Forest Café, Edinburgh

2020: Academy Late, live spoken word performance at the launch event for the new RSA Salon membership scheme, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

2019-20: Alba down to Nippon, multi-media artwork including theatrical poetry reading, OPEN SSA+VAS, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

2019: Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn Act 3, collaborative exhibition with Daniel O'Dempsey, WASPS Studios, Stromness, Orkney

2019: Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn Act 2, collaborative performance with Daniel O'Dempsey and Clair Westrop, Stromness Academy, Orkney

2019: Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn Act 1, collaborative performance with Daniel O'Dempsey and Eric Linklater, Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney

2019: Experimental Poetry Workshop, part of Piergroup, The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney

2019: Red Lite Radio, podcast with Daniel O'Dempsey, Orkney

2019: PEPSI 2, group show curated by McKenzie, St. Margaret's House, Edinburgh

2019: Theatrical spoken word performance at Michael Kay Terrence's The Marks to Prove It private view, Summerhall, Edinburgh

2019: JET BABY, theatrical poetry reading, part of Annuale Festival 2019, Heart of Midlothian, Royal Mile, Edinburgh

2019: PEPSI GENESIS, group show curated by McKenzie, Dock Street Studios, Dundee

2019: The Assassination of Dr. Queso Empanada, live theatre at SA-LON SUCKERS,Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh

2019: Round One, poetry reading at private view, The Bridewell Studios, Liverpool

2018-19: CONCORD NUDIST, theatrical storytelling at the SSA 121st Annual Exhibition, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

2018: ECSTASY AB INITIO, unauthorized poetry reading, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

2018: Live Music// Jam Session// Poetry ETC, The George Orwell, Dundee

2018: RSA New Contemporaries, exhibition and live spoken word performance, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

2017: RSA Open Exhibition, Royal Scottish Academy

2017: Best of Degree Show, Six Foot Gallery, Glasgow

2017: Annual Art, Design & Architecture Degree Show, Duncan and Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee

2017: Trans-Fixed Live Performance Event, generatorPROJECTS, Dundee

2016: ATTRIBUTES, Room 601, Duncan of Jordanstone

2016: Multi Exhibition, Matthew Entrance Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone

2016: Art & Philosophy’s First Social Event 16/17, Matthew Entrance Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone

2015: Culloden Viaduct Exhibition, Culloden Battlefield Centre, Inverness

Selected Publications

2023: Outcrop Poetry Issue 2, Outcrop Poetry Magazine, Edinburgh

2023: Wrong Directions Issue 1, Typewronger Books, Edinburgh

2022: Bollock Naked by Dr. Jock Howie, self-published zine, Edinburgh

2021: Grace and Consistency, riso-printed pamphlet with Yalla Riso, published in Dundee and distributed in Edinburgh

2021: Littoral Magazine Issue 3: Spring Equinox, online magazine

2020: All You Can Eat, collaborative zine curated and edited by  Alex Weir

2019: Alba down to Nippon, self-published zine, Edinburgh

2019: Polemical Zine Issue 11: Social, online zine, Canada

2019: New River Press Yearbook 2018-19, New River Press, Fitrovia, London

2018: The Celestial Midnight Bar, self-published, Edinburgh

2018: Untitled Poetry Collection, self-published, Dundee

2017: Prose Poems, self-published, Dundee

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