• James Capper


    • Male
    • Others

    About the artist

    Lives and works in London
    1987: Born in London

    The work of James Capper exists between sculpture and engineering through a profound fascination for making mechanical machines with an uncertain purpose. His long, lithe steel cranes flex and curve with the fluidity of a human arm. A bright yellow motorized machine pulls itself across the floor at the speed of a caterpillar. In their shape and movement, these hybrids hint at different options while their function remains uncertain.


    Their strangeness prompts curiosity, and viewers are invited to actively engage with the steel machines using in-built hydraulic systems to ‘drive’ them. With the sculptures ‘activated’, it becomes apparent that their immense hooks in the form of Ripper Teeth and threatening drills are docile and considerate. Gently probing their way into the ground or making shallow indents onto plaster blocks, they reveal in spite of their enormous stature and strength, great vulnerability. By obscuring the function of his machines and exploring the nature of their relationship with humans, Capper sets up a highly original investigation into the possibilities of mechanical power


    Of his work, Capper explains: “I feel it’s very important to bring new ideas to art rather than recycling old techniques. The operation of a machine is for me, a performance. The building of the machine is a demonstration of what mechanical engineering can achieve in sculpture.”


    Working alongside mechanics and steel fabricators as a child, James Capper (b.1987) later trained as a welder and was highly influenced by the experiments of artist David Smith and engineer R.G. LeTourneau. In 2010 he graduated with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London and during his degree was awarded both the Royal British Society of Sculpture Award and the Royal Academy Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture. Recent solo shows include Divisions, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2012-13), Fleet at the Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2011) and Ripper Teeth in Action at Modern Art Oxford (2010).


    He lives and works in London.