Since early 2013 James Thompson has been devising a variety of means to record and re-map the features of a small confinement cell in High Royds, a former psychiatric hospital, set in a 300 acre site in Menston, West Yorkshire. This historically significant hospital was founded in 1888 as the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, but finally closed ten years ago. However, rather than opting for conventional imitative means of documenting the site, such as photography, he has taken inspiration from the Cubists’ descriptions of space, which identified the duality of space and time and showed that it was possible to express multi-dimensional experiences of reality.
In his endeavour to record and interpret the site Thompson has employed a wide range of methods, including traditional techniques such as casting, as well as new media tools such as the video camera and scanner. One of the resulting works comprises latex casts of adjacent physical elements of the room - a window, a radiator, a door, etc. – and presents them stretched within a 3-dimensional frame, offering both a compressed and a negative view of their relative positions within the original space. In another work various architectural features are presented on a rotating latex belt and each of the corners of the cell are marked by a high frequency audible signal, emitted at intervals as the belt rotates. The dimensions of the room are thereby defined in relation to both space and time. In preparation for a video work the objects within the cell were coated in reflective material and the piece records the changing levels of natural light as it bounces off their shapes. A large-scale wall-mounted print provides yet another description of the cell, its features and furniture. This was made by means of a hand-held scanning device that was passed across their surfaces at varying speeds. A set of seats and a series of other 3D objects are the result of impressions captured in silicone and foam, or created by casting features of the room in Jesmonite® before piecing them together in different compositions.
In the course of this recording project Thompson has arrived at six different conceptualisations of one small - and soon to vanish - part of the material world. His work of interpretation and displacement allows it to be experienced in a number of unexpected and thought-provoking ways.
Some work-in-progress images of James Thompson’s project can be seen at: http://room-four.tumblr.com
James Thompson studied for a BA in 3-Dimensional Design (Furniture) at Leeds College of Art (2007 – 2010) and for an MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art, London (2010 – 2012). Some recent presentations of his work have included Social Interaction, el Matadero, Madrid; RCA Paradise, Milan; and Collective RCA MMXII at Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven (all 2012). From 2012 - 2013 he held the position of Associate lecturer at Leeds College of Art.
The exhibition coincides with the London Design Festival (14 – 22 September 2013) and with Open House London (21 – 22 September 2013).
James Thompson’s work on this project has been sponsored by Jesmonite® and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. His access to the former confinement cell at High Royds Hospital has been facilitated by members of the High Royds Sports and Social Club.
High Royds Hospital was founded as the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1888 and designed by architect J. Vickers Edwards. Its complex of gothic buildings offered a largely self-sufficient estate with a library, a surgery, dispensary, ballroom, butchers, dairy, bakery and its own railway system linked to the local line. It was the location for the film ‘Asylum’ and TV series ‘Bodies’ and ‘No Angels’. It also featured in David Dimbleby’s BBC documentary series ‘How We Built Britain’. The site is now being redeveloped as a new village.
Marsden Woo Project Space is curated by Tessa Peters
The Marsden Woo Project Space is a space for experimental new work in art, craft and design and runs alongside our established programme of solo and small group exhibitions by gallery artists. The Project Space allows us to respond quickly to significant bodies of innovative work, particularly that of talented emerging artists and designers, as well as fresh directions in the work of more established artists. The exhibitions are organized at short notice, so please check our website regularly for news on forthcoming shows and events.
For more information, images, or to arrange an interview with the artist please contact Tatjana Marsden or Siobhan Feeney. Tel: 020 7336 6396
Gallery opening hours are Tuesday to Friday 11.00 – 18.00 and Saturday 11.00 – 16.00.
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