James Balmforth was born in Plymouth in 1980. In 2003, James completed a Bachelor in Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Art & Design. He currently lives and works in London.
Balmforth’s work has been featured in the Peckham pavilion at the Venice Biennale; The Centre of the Universe at the Royal College Art Galleries; Event Horizon at the Royal Academy of Arts (2009); Optimism - The Art of Our Time at the Hannah Barry Gallery (2009); Bold Tendencies, an annual exhibition of outdoor sculpture, at the Hannah Barry Gallery (2007-2009); The Elimination of Distance xviii Jesus Lane, Cambridge and Late at Tate: !WOWOW! and Plastique Fantastique at Tate Britain (2008). In 2009, Balmforth's works, including Movement Towards Diminishing Object, were featured as part of a solo exhibition entitled The Making of Ashes at the Hannah Barry Gallery in London.
Balmforth's work aims to distil concepts and aspects of human experience in deceptively simple forms by exploiting the evocative and analytic potential of material and symbolic structures. In works that often employ mechanical apparatuses to accentuate the primacy of relations of rudimentary materials such as stone and ash, Balmforth reveals the simplicity inherent in elaborate concepts, and the hidden complexities of seemingly straightforward ideas. This engagement with formal and philosophical tensions reveal complexity and simplicity to be mutually dependent rather than diametrically opposed classifications. His practice is concerned with the life, function and potential of material objects. His work often explores how these symbolic relationships contribute to our ideas about history and society. Preoccupied with notions of limitation, degradation and ruin, Balmforth’s manipulation of subject and material simultaneously attempts to expose the failures within established systems and suggest the potential for creative forces born of destruction. Through exposing the redemptive potential in collapse and degradation, the artist sees his work as being the product of an optimistic, rather than fatalistic, worldview. His work also demonstrates an interest in the progress attained through the deconstruction of existing systems and structures, an interest exemplified in Failed Obelisk.