"My God is Better Than Yours."  

 Acrylic, Wood, Plastic and found objects on canvas.    2008

 Jamie has never lost his fascination for toys and games. As children we view them as innocent playthings, objects that explore our fantasies and imaginary adventures, and they act as a social connection enabling us to make friends, have arguments and learn important interactions. Jamie uses them to connect with his audience in different ways by communicating a variety of messages, threatening, humorous, sexual, rude, political, religious and often ironic, particularly when related to the title of the work.

Titles such as 'My God is Better Than Yours' resonate with playground teasing - 'Mines Better Than Yours,' but also have a more chilling message when related to current and past world conflicts. Jamie often begins a piece of work by playing with toys, rearranging them in such a way so as to communicate a powerful message or a narrative. He uses colour to enhance this, sometimes symbolically, often to create a mood or atmosphere. The addition of gold or silver charms and rare toys which he embeds into the paint also speak of the misguided values that we place on such items, whilst also devaluing them, but perhaps heightening the value of the work.

Within each work is a message. It would be easy to look at them as a random selection of toys embedded into paint, but consider the titles, look at the toys themselves and how they are arranged, and think about the colour use. These are not bedtime stories, but they have the power to make us think, laugh out loud, feel uncomfortable, or challenge our views.

Chris Hann.  Artist.




On first impression, Jamie Andrews' work is about play in all senses of the word - games, imagination, fantasy, performance or pure verbal and visual plays: puzzles to tease the eye and engage the mind.

His highly distinctive pictures combine elements which at first glance seem simple, even naïve. The vivid acrylic colours, vintage toys and charms, and garish plastic alphabet letters may seem as jumbled and jolly as a toddler's playroom, but do not be fooled. Look again and, despite his light touch and misleading, cheery innocence, Andrews' works are extraordinarily expressive: witty, ironic, angry and tragic, and handled with a dark humour which goes straight for the jugular on every subject from religion and sex to politics and pollution.

Embedded letters, apparently as artlessly placed as magnets on a fridge door form words with entirely adult meaning. The sugary smile on a doll's impassive pink face becomes a leer, peering disembodied from layers of impasto colours as thick as theatre curtains, making you wonder what game she is playing, what she is hiding, what lies behind the smile.

Sometimes Andrews' use of toys seem less sinister than unexpectedly poignant. How better to convey the vulnerability of an individual, the low cost of life in a throw-away society? These little figures become a pile of corpses covered in blood, fall from the sky, or balance precariously on the backs of circus horses as though about to topple from the picture. Yet they have personality too: Jesus on the Cross as a yellow, smiley-faced stick figure seems to embrace his destiny, while George Bush as a floppy, puppet-like skeleton is frightening and ridiculous in equal measures. This is about play: life is a game, and life is fragile.

Dr Francesca Vanke. Museum Curator of Decorative arts.