Richard James – Exhibition Walkthrough

We are delighted to present this guided exhibition walk-through of the second major exhibition at Goldmark of assemblages by Richard James.

Five years in the making, an exhibition of new assemblages by Richard James will open at Goldmark from 26 June – 24 July. James’ hand-built cabinet displays, arranged with astonishing intricacy from a range of found materials, pay reverence to the nomadic creatures of coast and sea. Engaging at a profoundly intimate and spiritual level, his work is collected widely in the UK and further abroad.

Richard James was born in 1963 in Northampton, though much of his material he sources on beach-combing expeditions in the Scottish Isles. His assemblages, more often composed in reliquary-like boxes or wunderkammer cabinets, make strong use of astronomical association: an attempt to recognise the greater mystery inherent in the commonplace fragments of exhausted life. Bringing the remains of birds and sea creatures together with doctored prayer cards and star maps, glass vials and extraordinarily fine wirework, he strives to offer glimpses of the unknown through fragments of things once living and to explore the subliminal landscape concealed by the everyday.

Richard James comments on his work – “If we must have something carnal to revere – some symbol of magic and supernatural power – why should it not come from the animals and birds, our companions in the shared experience of life?”

‘Seeing Richard’s exquisite work for the first time… I was struck both by its eeriness and its familiarity. The obsessive nature of his collecting and arranging; his fascination with star-charts, with birds and whales, with littorals, with wrack and wreck, with navigation and orientation – these made immediate sense to me. Seeing them, you are struck first by wonder and then by mystery.’ Robert Macfarlane

‘James as shaman serves the community, whether intentionally or not, by collecting and preserving these evidences of the surrounding world, a world we too often take for granted. He encourages us to look anew and to re-consider our relationships with everything we can see, and a lot we can’t. His way of doing this is to make beautiful cabinets of enquiry, that both provoke our intellectual and emotional curiosity and satisfy our aesthetic sense. By his endeavours he exalts our existence, and that’s a very rare achievement indeed.’ Andrew Lambirth

A feature documentary film and fully illustrated monograph, written by Andrew Lambirth, will be available.

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