HMP Grendon25.04.2024

James Lomax: Art at HMP Grendon, artist in residence

Ikon is pleased to announce that artist James Lomax is undertaking a two-month residency at HMP Grendon in Buckinghamshire, funded by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust.

The residency, part of the gallery’s ground-breaking off-site programme, Art at HMP Grendon, involves weekly workshops with the prison’s communities in the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Studio.

James Latunji-Cockbill, Art at HMP Grendon Producer, interviews the artist:

HMP Grendon is a Category B prison that operates a unique, psychodynamic therapeutic model. Why are you interested in sharing your artistic practice in this context?

My practice is concerned with context setting and shifting – taking objects, images or motifs and changing their context  – it’s what anchors the production of nearly all my works. This residency feels like an opportunity to do that, but also to change my context and to work with the prison’s communities, to learn from them in a way that will no doubt shape my ways of thinking and producing throughout the residency and moving forwards in my practice.

You often work with different materials, such as concrete and cardboard, in response to site-specific ephemera. What methods and practices will you explore with prison groups and what do you hope to achieve?

I’m keen to expand and broaden the language of what an art practice can be for the prison’s community. A particular focus will be sculpture and object making, with an interplay of sculpture as image and image as sculpture. We’ll work with casting processes and techniques to build the group’s creative language of production and bring them into my world in the studio.

Your work often features repeated motifs – such as the chain-link fence – very easily relatable to carceral space. Could a prison residency change your view of this motif?

The motif of the chain-link fence which I often repeat is something of a signature or trademark, a corporate identity perhaps. I’ve long had an interest in subliminal signs and methods of control within space, whether in cityscapes, through the privatisation of public space, or through the way a viewer will encounter my work in an exhibition space. I expect the residency at HMP Grendon will affect the meaning of the work in this setting, motifs like the chain-link fence will have a more loaded meaning within the prison environment.

In 2022 Ikon opened an art gallery inside HMP Grendon, the only curated space inside a prison in the country. What do you intend to do with this carceral gallery space?

As someone who advocates for artists to consistently challenge themselves in the studio, I wanted to follow my own advice and work on a new body of experimental sculpture and photography for my solo show in the gallery at HMP Grendon. I want to step outside my comfort zone and work with the prison community to critique new ideas in my practice.

Main Image: James Lomax. Image courtesy Ava Alvarez




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