James Nilsen-Misra

Artist and Production Designer James Nilsen-Misra (BA[Hons] Production Design AFDA; BTech Fine Art Mandela University), is based in Cape Town and has worked on projects in Johannesburg, Gqeberha, London, New York & Los Angeles.

Production design work includes the historic Terra X series for ZDF (Germany), Knee Deep in Warm Water for SABC as well as commercials for Carrefour (France), Deichmann and Porsche (Germany). NGO filmmaking projects include production design for The Global Fund and set dressing for the Community Media Trust. 

Collaborations with leading production designers include Colin Gibson (Oscar), Darryl Hammer (BAFTA), Fred Du Preez (SAFTA) and Karel Flint (SAFTA). 

Nilsen-Misra was set decorator alongside production designer Heidi Jokinen (Finland) on Homebound, which won the Next Nordic Generation Award at the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund

Dr Who episode "Rosa", won the inaugural Visionary Honours TV Show of the Year Award at BAFTA.  "The material itself was raved about by fans following its broadcast, most notably for its honest portrayal of that period in history" - Peter Nolan.

His multimedia artwork has been shown at Everard Read, Ebony Curated, Absa L'Atelier and the Mandela Metropolitan. Performance art collaborations include Elgin Rust at the AVA and Athi Patra-Ruga at the opening of the new Stevenson in Cape Town. James served on the Executive & Curatorial Board of the Association for Visual Art, the Handspring Trust and Cape Town Pride. As curator, installing the featured artist retrospective touring exhibition for the National Arts Festival, Association for Visual Art and FNB Johannesburg Art Fair were highlights.

James managed two of Cape Town’s leading prop houses, the contemporary Aartappel and the vintage Hot Tuna collections, the largest of their kinds in Africa. As theatre producer for the Tony Award winning Handspring Puppet Company on the hit play WarHorse, he worked with the National Theatre UK as well as the William Kentridge Studio on collaborations including Ubu and the Truth Commission, Woyzeck on the Highveld & Il Ritorno d'Ulisse.

Productions & Exhibitions

James Nilsen-Misra Production Design & Props Master CV 13 Nov Web.pdf


What compelling and intriguing images; what thoughtful meditation. The writing of the notes is suggestive, poignant and tender. James Nilsen-Misra raises so many questions that are at the heart of current historiography: what kind of information ‘counts’ as historical truth, what do truths tell us about human mores, desires, subjectivities 

Professor Dr Jane Taylor - Andrew W Mellon Chair of Aesthetic Theory and Material Performance at the Centre for Humanities Research

I was deeply moved by the dark and sensitive engagement with Gandhi. James Nilsen- Misra has engaged with his subject with such deep research and empathy, and then captured and revealed Gandhi in sensitive, beautiful art works. It is a special privilege to learn about history and historical figures through works of art (Penny Siopis made me more aware of the plight of Sara Baartman) and I can pay James no greater compliment; I had no idea that Gandhi was a gay icon and of his relationship with Kallenbach, an architect known to me – thank you! 

Dr Marilyn Martin, Curator, Art & Architechure Historian &  Former Director of the Iziko South African National Galleryi

James Nilsen-Misra’s precise and beautifully executed diptych Nocturne #1 and #2 suggest an intense investigation into both serene reflections and melancholia. Indeed there is an ability in the pair of drawings to critically inform upon each other. As information is obscured in one example it is in turn highlighted in the other. This in turn reinforces the notions of the passage of time as the light source changes through the night.

Emma Vandermerwe, Director Everard Read Gallery M.F.A Slade School of Fine Art. University College London

"a serene night scene by James Nilsen-Misra." 

Luan Nel, Director Nel Gallery

James Nilsen-Misra’s diptych, of Nocturne I and Nocturne II, is [the exhibition's] restrained and sophisticated high point. Both images have the same suburban interior as their subject but a slight change of light between the works connotes the silent passing of time.  They could be two frames lifted from film noir footage of the empty room. Fresh-cut flowers, an unplayed piano and empty chairs offer a quiet intermission from the day and respite for photosensitive art-viewers.  The drawings feel totally dormant and contained so that they can be looked at without being contaminated by one’s own clamouring thoughts. Nilsen-Misra’s technique is characterised by his disciplined tonal limitation.

Isabella Kuijers, Arthrob writer, MA London Metropolitan University