James F. Ormsby (b. 1957) is a contemporary artist from New Zealand, affiliated with the iwi (tribal) groups, Ngati Maniapoto, Waikato, Te Arawa and Katimana (Scotsman). He was raised and educated in Hamilton, New Zealand, leaving the local Teachers Training College in 1981. He then spent over thirteen years in Melbourne, Australia, working and then studying for a Degree in Education. He graduated in 1990, and then tutored in Design at the University of Melbourne. Ormsby achieved a Master of Fine Art from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in 2002, and started to exhibit at dealer galleries. He now works from his studio in Omanu, Bay of Plenty, and also guest lectures throughout New Zealand.
His work, consisting of drawings and paintings, has been shown in many solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia. It is considered to be a significant voice in contemporary Maori art, expressing cross-cultural issues and contemporary interpretations of Maori culture. At the same time, Ormsby pushes the boundaries of drawing traditions, producing works which are at once grand, imposing and highly personal.
Recently, he has held major solo exhibitions throughout New Zealand. His most recent work is Psaltearoa, exhibited at the Whitespace Gallery, Auckland, in May 2011 and in July on show in the exhibition Current at the October Gallery in London, UK. Psaltearoa is a syncretic combination, a compound of Psalter (Illuminated Manuscript), and Aotearoa (New Zealand). The Psaltearoa drawings reference the famous English “Ormesby Psalter”, commissioned by Robert Ormesby, a 13th century monk. It is thus a continuation of whakapapa (history) into New Zealand from England. In 2011, he was also a guest speaker for the panel Indigenous Art Now! organised in collaboration of the Australian contemporary art magazine Artlink, the October Gallery and Framer Framed.
His work is held in many of the major New Zealand and Australian collections including The Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa o Tongarewa (Wellington), the Waikato Museum (Hamilton) and The University of Melbourne.