Transformational Art In External Excess

This small solo show by James Balmforth is all about the transformation of objects and materials, and the vulnerability that becomes evident when they are treated in unexpected ways.

The walls feature what appear to be large abstract paintings but are in fact discarded photographs that the artist found on a scrapheap. Exposure to the elements has erased any trace of the images they once held. Yet once blown up in scale, the colourful marbled appearance has a beauty all of its own.

Other transitional pieces include a sewing machine showing the results of exposure to a house fire. The aluminium outer case has melted away leaving the inner steel workings rusted but still intact. The different melting points of the two metals reveals that underneath it all, there’s a Victorian and rather simple feel to its inner workings.

One of the strongest works is a video of flowers being wilted by light amplified through a magnifying glass. It recognises that though light is the lifeblood of plants, via photosynthesis, it can also turn destroyer when focused. It highlights the natural world’s juxtaposed wonders and threats, yet our influence on it is also significant.

Our favourite piece is a dagger made of Gallium, a rare metal that is solid at room temperature but has a melting point of 30 degrees. Holding it in your hands would cause it to melt but it looks so solid that it should make an effective weapon, and doesn’t hint at the underlying fragility of the object.

This exhibition is an interesting exploration of materials and a commentary on the fragile nature of existence. It  suggests that change is not always a bad thing and even failed products can have their own artistic appeal.

External Excess: A Solo Exhibition by James Balmforth is at Protein, 18 Hewett St, EC2A 3NN until 8 September. Admission is free.

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