James Thompson: Spatial Drifts

17 Jul-16 Oct 2021


James Thompson is a Leeds based artist whose work explores our interpretation and experiences of architecture and physical space. Working with sculpture, digital media and performance, he often makes site specific installations in response to civic buildings to reveal and reimagine their complex histories.

In 2017 when Leeds Art Gallery closed for renovation, Thompson carried out ‘research performances’ to document and re-map the newly discovered Central Court. Capturing the architectural fabric of the gallery space during its period of transformation, he made a series of aluminium impression moulds, audio recordings and digital scans of the walls and floor, to draw attention to anomalies and areas of damage that have now been removed or repaired.

Developed from this research material and reconfigured in the space within which it was originally created, Spatial Drifts presents alternative ways to experience the gallery’s iconic Victorian architecture. Large sculptural constructions and fragile objects representing collapsed versions of the space and moving imagery of the perimeter of Central Court presented at varying speeds, are ambiguous and unsettling forms. They speak of the hidden life of the building and enable us to discover parallel versions of the gallery across time. A film exploring the history of Leeds Art Gallery and the hidden histories of former art spaces in the city speculates on a potential future for the city, and the fragility and complexity of our built environment.

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