The Consumptive Sublime

James Balmforth (1980 - )

Single channel video


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© James Balmforth

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  • About the work
    Country: France
    City: Paris
    Place: British Embassy
    James Balmforth’s video shows a procession of single flowers move across a blank screen before being irradiated by a powerful light source which causes them to wither and droop. Shown starkly against a black background, the blooms are a mixture of colourful garden and wild flowers and include primroses, forget-me-nots and buttercups. The endless procession (the video is 11 minutes, 11 seconds) of dying flowers suggests a form of memento mori, commenting on the transience of life and the closeness of life and death, a reading reinforced by the juxtaposition inherent in the title of the piece, The Consumptive Sublime. There is a black humour too that comes across when watching the rather jerky movement of the flowers across the screen before they fall – a process which suggests they could almost be hand held or perhaps on some makeshift conveyor belt.

    Primarily a sculptor, Balmforth makes works that he regards as self-defeating monuments to failure. For example, in another work entitled Myth Interrupted, an iron griffin, a symbol of earthly majesty, has been coated in bright red plastic. One wing has fallen off, revealing an empty interior eaten away by rust – this is clearly a griffin that is going nowhere. Balmforth has also made a dagger that would, on account of its material, melt if it ever came into contact with anyone. In pursuing an ongoing interest in futility and failure, Balmforth draws upon various unusual and unstable substances such as fat, gallium and plastic, investigating the many hidden properties of matter.

  • About the artist
    James Balmforth was born in Plymouth, UK. He studied at Chelsea College of Art, graduating in 2003. His solo exhibitions include Forces and Needs, Hannah Barry Gallery, London in 2011 and The Making of Ashes, also at Hannah Barry in 2009. Balmforth has had work in many group shows including in 2012 Sculpture al Fresco II, Marcelle Joseph Projects, Egham, UK and in 2010 Let There Be Sculpture!, New Art Centre Roche Court, Wiltshire, UK; Bold Tendencies 4, Peckham, UK; MIART art fair, Milan, Italy and Should I stay or Should I go?, Chelsea Space, London. He lives and works in London.
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  • Details
    The Consumptive Sublime
    Single channel video
    Purchased from Hannah Barry Gallery, June 2013
    Purchased from Hannah Barry Gallery, London, June 2013
    GAC number