Sculptor James Capper nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award

by Cass Art

Once a year, some shining stars from all corners of the arts are brought to the annual South Bank Sky Arts Awards. And if you want to have a say on who shines brightest, then you should vote on The Times Breakthrough Award, whose nominees have been recently announced.

Excitinly, the nominee for the Visual Arts category is James Capper, a sculptor currently exhibiting at The Cass Sculpture Foundation (not that we're biased.)

He's an artist who, in short, is also an engineer. And he makes machines. Welding and solving problems as he goes, his machines often, in turn, look like they could make machines themselves. Born in 1987, Capper trained at the Royal Academy of Art, and is interested in the mechanical process of art creation as well as finished forms.

He divides his practice into Earth Marking, Offshore, Aviation, Carving Tools and now Machine Handling – to reflect the varied functions of the machines he creates. Reminiscent of the movements of spiders or caterpillars, the actions of his machines are slow and linear, like the motions of hydraulic engineering. Influenced by the Land Art movement of 1970s America, when figures such as Robert Smithson employed the actions of machines to create sculpture from the natural landscape, Capper casts aside the formalism and materials of traditional art. 

James Capper Treehorn

Capper is also known for Sea Light, a fog light sculpture that he set adrift on the Thames in 2010. The workmen lowering it onto the water thought they’d seen one before, it was so like the machines they deal with on a daily basis.

“I could just say, ‘Yeah we’ve got 350 of these units off the coast of Gibraltar’, and they’d all just be nodding their heads, putting their cigarettes out on the deck and loading it into the river,” Capper has said about the piece.

After his recent residency at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, his new commissions have just been unveiled in Goodwood at the Cass Sculpture Foundation - and you should get down and see them! Another of his major works, Six Step, will be at the Venice Biennale this summer, and you should keep an eye out for another upcoming show at Dilston Grove in London.

His sculptural installation Greenhorn is in the grounds of the Cass Sculpture Foundation this summer. A tractor-like machine with a life of its own, it takes fallen tree trunks and arranges them in new, aesthetic formations before the viewer's eyes. The word Greehorn refers to an inexperienced forester, and the installation explores and minimises the destructive impact of tree felling. 

James Capper Sculptures

Alongside his new commission Greenhorn, Capper's exhibition Hydraulic Sculptures will be on show until 8th November 2015 at Cass Sculpture Foundation. Sculptures, drawings and films explore mark making and material handling, many taking the form of machines that make sculpture, acting as installations themselves. Each of his sculptures fulfil a specific function within an environment, reflecting his research of industrial machinery and animal movement. The result is an exhibition of individual sculptures that create sculptures, a field of living, breathing machines.

If you're intrigued by James Capper's work, or want to see what else his machines can do, you should vote for him to win the Times Breakthrough Award. You can vote here.

The other nominess include Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Film, Francesca Hayward for Dance, Sara Pasco for Comedy, 1927 for Theatre, Nicky Spence for Opera, Luke Bedford dfor Classical, LoneLady for Pop/Rock, Emma Healey for Literature and Luke Pasqualino for TV Drama. 

Feeling inspired?

You can read more about James Capper and his commissions at the Cass Sculpture Foundation on another Cass Art blog

You can vote for your favourite cultural figure out of the Times Breakthrough nominees here.

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