James Clarkson (b. 1987, Liverpool) studied Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University and currently lives and works in Sheffield.
Clarkson is an artist who is captivated by objects and their meanings. Working primarily with found materials, he juxtaposes them against one another to explore how they can relate. In doing so he aims to further understand the historical and societal context of the constituents that surround us in our everyday lives. Sourcing images from within the history of art, Clarkson often re-presents these visual assets in conjunction with remnants of heavy industry found in Sheffield, UK, where he's based. As Clarkson describes, "quite often an object's history or embedded meaning will direct the concept of an exhibition or series of works."
A dialogue between industrial production and art history was explored in 2012 when the artist disassembled a Citroën Picasso and re-arranged and re-appropriated its components to build upon their already existing associations. The car windows were arranged into a novel sequence linked to Picasso through large marks that clearly referenced the late artist’s characteristic style. This was an exploration of the potential meanings that can occur at the nexus of fine art and industrially-produced goods; a form of referential interplay. More recently, in 2014, Clarkson mounted Smooth Flow, a site-specific exhibition at the disused Tetley Brewery (the producers of ‘Smooth Flow Draft Bitter’), where the artist examined the social history of the old brewery through its disused and abandoned materials that were discovered during its renovation – thus transforming the space into a contemporary art gallery.
By inserting objects into different and unusual loci, Clarkson queries whether they consequently undergo a change in signification while investigating how associations can be altered when something is placed in an unfamiliar context. Creating a formal language that combines found objects, historical connotations and artistic creations, Clarkson explores the connections between reproducibility, the every day and art history.