“James Meldrum’s paintings 1983-86 introduce a theme of imaginary monasteries. Constructed with the intention of guiding spectators into the artists imaginative realm, his imaginary monasteries exude an Eastern aura which could emanate from anywhere between North Africa and Japan. They describe a fascination he pursued since he was young when he resided in monasteries in Japan, Thailand and Malaysia seeking wisdom through meditation. His own monasteries invoke, out of a dreamlike trance, the forms of pyramids, ziggurats, ramps and towers; all architectural symbols incorporated in Ancient, Near Eastern and Asian architecture. They suggest an aspiration towards the inner sanctum of self-knowledge”. Jenny Zimmer, February 1986
James Meldrum studied art at Swinburne Technical college from 1945-49. His paintings were first shown in London, then at Kozminsky galleries in Melbourne 1953. For many years he concentrated on teaching art at RMIT. His surrealistic canvases depicting non functional objects won him many awards including the 1971 Sulman Prize and the 1979 Canberra Art Prize.
Meldrum held about 30 solo exhibitions between 1951 and 2006 including in London, Sydney and Melbourne (Pinacotheca, Charles Nodrum). A retrospective of his work was held at the Cairns Regional Gallery in 2006. His works are represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia. Canberra, and the Art Gallery of NSW (as part of the bequest of novelist Patrick White) and many regional galleries.