(Born 1994 Harare, Zimbabwe) 

(Lives in Edinburgh, Scotland) 

James Alexander McKenzie is an award-winning Scottish artist and poet. His interdisciplinary work encompasses painting, poetry, performance art, installation, spoken word and theatre. He has an expanded understanding of artistic disciplines and an awareness of alternative hybrid possibilities. In his avant-garde poetry-plays, which is the prevailing manifestation of his practice, he blends (and blurs the boundaries of) theatre, poetry, painting, spoken word, performance art and stand-up comedy. Wry humour; parody; absurdity; sporadic obscenity; self-absorbed performances; metatheatrical devices: these are trademarks of his writing and performance work. McKenzie’s sculptural mixed-media paintings function as theatrical scenery in his hybrid productions. Collage is generally an essential technique in his various practices, and he often works with found materials. His methodology is characterised by intuition, spontaneity and experimentation, and his source material is fluid and expansive. Previous years spent working with children and people with disabilities lead to an appreciation of their unselfconsciousness and unrestrained use of media that was formative to his methodology. Lived experiences and accounts of such, both genuine and fictitious (and the accounts and experiences of others that he appropriates) amount to some of the material that informs his fictions. Other sources include books, art exhibitions, music, film, theatre, and folklore. His exaggerations often have elements of comedy, satire, and parody. McKenzie is a scavenger that mines everywhere in his day-to-day life, and he extracts and develops whatever is appealing. He is dedicated to the subversion and advancement of disciplines in the arts.

McKenzie has exhibited, performed publicly and lead workshops at galleries including the Royal Scottish Academy, the Scottish National Gallery, Embassy Gallery, generatorPROJECTS, Summerhall, Volk Gallery and Orkney’s Pier Arts Centre. He has been the recipient of several awards for his work as an artist including a bursary from the RSA Residencies for Scotland scheme (2019), the RSA Carnegie Scholarship for painting for his work in RSA New Contemporaries (2018) and the James Guthrie Orchar Memorial Art Prize from Dundee University (2017). His poems have appeared in the New River Press Yearbook, Littoral Magazine, Polemical Zine, and he has self-published several pamphlets. He graduated from Dundee University in 2017 and studied for a period at Goldsmiths University on the MFA Fine Art programme between 2021 and 2022. His work is featured in a number of public and private collections.

McKenzie is a founding member of artist collective-cum-subversive troupe Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn with Liverpool artist and poet Daniel O’Dempsey. Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn consists of McKenzie and O’Dempsey as abiding contributors and includes anyone that the pair collaborate with when operating as Fenris Wolf and Ragnar Thorfinn. It is a vehicle for experimentation, collaboration and developing ideas within the realms of fine art, performance art, spoken word, poetry, music, and theatre.




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


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 

2012: Robert Patterson Pencil Portrait Award, George Watson’s College 

Selected Exhibition, Performance and Workshops

2022:Decoy House, open house-cum-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


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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