Selected works by James Balmforth

James Balmforth
Myth Interrupted


Plastic and cast iron

120 x 45 x 59 cm
James Balmforth’s sculptures are self-defeating monuments, icons of failure. An iron griffin, mythic symbol of earthly majesty, has been coated in bright red plastic; one wing has fallen off, revealing a hollow interior eaten away by rust. A dagger, associated with the power to take another life, has a brass handle but a gallium blade; if stabbed into a body the metal would melt, as gallium does on contact with human skin. The use of gallium introduces another significant theme in Balmforth’s work: the hidden life of matter, its secret complexities and failures. The griffin – entitled Myth Interrupted – has a prophylactic red skin, the colour of a postbox or road sign, that both protects and emasculates it. Reduced to a doorstop or garden ornament, the griffin embodies the absence of its mythical origins; a wing gone, it’s reduced to flying in ever-decreasing circles.
James Balmforth
Exchange (3/10)


Gallium and brass

35 x 5 cm

Likewise the dagger (Exchange 3/10), whose skillful construction – the cross-hatched handle with its delicate pommel – belies its inability to function as designed. Defanged and made a thing to be looked at (made art, in other words) the dagger becomes a metaphor of corrupted value, an element in a debased heraldry, while accruing, as if accidentally, uncanny strength and eloquence as art.

Text by Ben Street

James Balmforth's Biography

James Balmforth
Born in 1980, Plymouth, UK
Lives and works in London, UK


Forces and Needs, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, UK

The Making of Ashes, Hannah Barry


Sculpture al Fresco II, Marcelle Joseph Projects, Egham, UK

Let There Be Sculpture!, New Art Centre Roche Court, Wiltshire, UK
Bold Tendencies 4, Peckham, UK
MIART art fair, Milan, Italy
Should I stay or Should I go?, Chelsea Space, London, UK
Subject Matter, Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood, UK

Bold Tendencies 3, Peckham, UK
The Peckham Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
The Centre of the Universe, Royal College of Art Galleries, London, UK
Event Horizon, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

Optimism: The Art of Our Time, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, UK
The Elimination of Distance, XVIII Jesus Lane, Cambridge, UK
Death, Take Courage Gallery, London, UK
Bold Tendencies 2, Peckham, UK
Late at Tate !WOWOW! and Plastique Fantastique, Tate Britain, London

Monumental Painting, Sculpture & Film, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, UK
Experiments With Figuration, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, UK
Landscape, Film and Photography, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, UK
Small Painting and Sculpture, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, UK
Colour and Line, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, UK
10 Rooms and a Sculpture Garden, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, UK