Appendage: An Interview With Artist James Lomax

by Cass Art

Walking into James Lomax's new show, Appendage, revealed a scattering of large, breathing objects, a crossover of the still and the moving. Over in the corner stood Birth of Tragedy, a cluster of tall, leaning wedges, in green, blue and black, opposite Piley, a great carpeted staircase tilted on its side.

A blue cupboard, Not Coral, made small creaking noises from another corner, its blank wooden screen scrolling around and around only to reveal the same faceless blue surface. Small signs spoke of experience, and tired humour - the words NOT CORAL stuck to the letterbox at the entrance, and a blank projection scanning the far wall before it disappeared from sight.

James Lomax won the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship several months ago, and his experiences of since moving to London have fed into his practice. Heavily influenced by his sporadic living arrangements since he came to the city, and coupled with the artist's acknowledgment of the gambling and betting nature of several areas, the exhibition is an overall installation - a response to the new life the artist has discovered after graduating.

James Lomax Moving Sculpture

We asked James to tell us more about the show, and he told us where he finds the unusual art materials that fuel his creations. 

Can you explain the ideas behind Appendage? Does every piece have its own story? 

I tend to think of the work in the show as being from the same thread of thought. All the work was made within 6 months and my thoughts about each object are very coherent with one another so although they are autonomous works in their own rights, I like them to be seen with the context of each other.

The show evolved from the first body of work I have made since moving to London, and this was heavily influenced by what was going on in my life at the time; there was a lot going on both mentally and physically and that fed into the work.

Artist James Lomax Sky Arts Scholarship Winner 

The sculptures seemed like living creatures, which was only reinforced by the slight movement and noise from Not Coral, and the scanning projection on the wall. Can you talk a little about showing both static objects and moving image in the same space? 

I don’t know about living creatures, I’d never really thought about them in that way. It’s interesting you say that because I see those two works as the most static in the show. Birth Of Tragedy is very anthropomorphic for me, like jostling walruses on a beach in a David Attenborough program, or a fight outside. Piley I see as a bit of an aggressor, it dictates the way in which you view the whole show; you have to submit to it through the domestic materials, and the physical and audible softness of it evoke a kinder response than might be expected. Inhaler kind of has a life of its own; it expands and contracts depending on the environment and temperature, bowing and then going straight like a plumb line again.

In terms of getting Not Coral to work technically, that was a bit of a nightmare. It’s one of the parts of making work I like the least because it lacks creativity in every way and it took about 3 months from start to finish. You end up doing the strangest things, like running round London trying to by as many disco ball motors as possible… 

What was it like working with Suzannah Pettigrew, and having your work curated?

Working with Suzannah was great. We met working as technicians together a couple of years ago and got on really well, which is very important when you are working closely with someone like that. We have quite similar clear-cut ideas about the work and I enjoyed the process of working with a curator.

Appendage by James Lomax 

You work with some unusual materials – carpet and wallpaper and copper pipe. Where do you source your materials from?

The materials I use are generally quite domestic, I buy a lot of bits off ebay and everything else pretty much comes from the builders yard and DIY stores. Ebay is a great resource, it has everything at your fingertips; I’ve just ordered 11,000 tyre valve caps and 2,600 sticks of chewing gum.

I hear you’re a fan of Cass Art’s watercolour paper! How does watercolour work alongside your sculpture – what kinds of thing do you paint?

I like doing little postcard paintings and A4 watercolours. I paint things I observe and things I dream up in my head. I turn my thoughts into physical objects and paint those. It’s a way to document things that would otherwise disappear. I rarely show any of the paintings.

James Lomax Sculpture 

How has winning the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship helped you this year?

 It has helped me exponentially. To give me the time to work without financial constraint and just experiment has been so beneficial. There was no pressure on me from anyone but myself and I am hugely grateful for their ongoing support.

What’s your plan for the rest of the year?

I have a couple of things potentially in the pipeline but I'm really just focusing on my studio practice and applying for lots of residencies in between periods of working as a gallery technician.

Feeling inspired?

Read our original interview with James Lomax here, after he had just been announced the winner of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship 2014. 

Appendage has now ended, but you can visit James Lomax's website here, follow him on Twitter and read more about the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship here

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