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Blog - James Lake

New cardboard work titled ‘Youth’


I have started a new project that I am currently calling ‘Youth’.

I promised my youngest son I would make a sculpture of him next. The question was how to represent him. I knew I wanted something dynamic – I wanted to test the limits of the cardboard sculpting process. Looking at my son and his life, I wanted the work to examine at some level the optimism of youth in relation to the current environmental, political and cultural landscape.

Pencil drawing of a young boy jumping reaching up with his right hand raching for some stars. Small scribbly text around the outside with handwritten notes.

Placing the work that I do in a time and context feels particularly important. I therefore make a list of current news items, such as reduction in the depth of the stratosphere, melting ice and bleached coral reefs, new covid variants, reduced air quality, and recycled plastics being sent to be burnt in other countries.

I was particularly aware of this new developing and far-reaching agenda of the potential narrowing of visual arts with a 50% reduction in funding for art courses embedded in broader cultural and education changes. It feels that these limitations can only serve to diminish wider cultural diversity and ultimately diminish freedoms. I personally feel the increased use of algorithms to define aspects of information and choice can affect the autonomy of artistic endeavour. This feeling keeps me working with cardboard as my base material.

‘Youth’ is a time of optimism where there is still hope that freedom can be maintained against this current social and historical time frame. Children’s drawings on paper epitomise the freedom of expression that has not been diluted and nullified by market forces. I want to find a way to include drawings made by my youngest son in this work as a reference to his sense of freedom.

pencil drawing of a young boy from the waist up with his right hand reaching up towards some stars above him. handwritten text around the edge on the right and left of notes relevant to the work

To see more of my work visit:

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