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Richard James assemblages

Introduced by

Robert Macfarlane goldmark

Price ÂŁ10


Richard James assemblages


Robert Macfarlane

Richard James

goldmark 2016

Migratory 1 Mind that swan? The whooper we found neck slack on the turf, head pointing north like a way-sign, how you stooped and opened its wing? I paid scant heed to your naming of parts: coverts, ulna, primaries being scunnert with the place, its gales and sea-roar – but this wing – this was a proclamation! The wind-fit, quartz-bright power of the thing! A radiant gate one could open and slip through... We dragged the swan to the lee of an old dyke tucked it in neat, a white stone, then trudged up out of the glen. At the ridge again, we got clouted properly, staggered on, half elated, half scared.

Kathleen Jamie The Bonniest Companie Picador Poetry

Bone Atlas Chart 31

Richard James assemblages I first encountered the work of Richard James six autumns ago, at a period of my life when I was travelling frequently to the Outer Hebrides and the north-western seaboard of mainland Scotland. That year I sailed overnight in an old open boat from the Butt of Lewis up to Sula Sgeir – the Gannet Rock – forty miles out into the North Atlantic. My skipper on that journey, Ian Stephen, was a navigator of exquisite precision. To plot our course on the charts he used a pair of brass dividers with curved handles, that reminded me of the skull of a godwit. The sky on the night we sailed was cloudless. Jupiter blazed in the east. A phosphorescent wake unfurled behind us. As our destination lay due north, our navigation was celestial and simple: keep the North Star steady between halyard and spar. Seeing Richard’s exquisite work for the first time shortly after that journey, then, I was struck both by its eeriness and its familiarity. The obsessive nature of his collecting and arranging; his fascination with star-charts, with birds and whales, with littorals, with wrack and wreck, with navigation and orientation – these made immediate sense to me. I admired, too, the assembly of precedents that his cabinets invoked: the reliquary (sacred), the wunderkammer (secular),


Pages 8 - 24 omitted


Extrasolar (Beyond the Sun)

27 ∣


Astronomy of the Seashore

Leading Lights 270°

29 ∣

Pages 31 - 45 omitted

Evangelical Songsters

Makers of the Starry Sky (Days of Devotion)

47 ∣

Notes Astronomy of the Seashore

between Dun and Stac Levenish. A right hand, symbol of God’s

2013, 630 x 650 x 50 mm (open)

blessing, holds a gull hatching from a mussel shell.

Seabird Mandibles, Seal Pup Scapula & Whiskers, Bird Bone, Roots, Porpoise Vertebrae & Teeth, Crab Remains, Small Wasp Nest,

Birds and the Flowering Sea (Articles of Belief)

Bitumen, Seabird Quills, Other Found Objects.

2014, 860 x 440 x 65 mm

Extending thousands of kilometres into space, the Earth’s magnetic

Skull, Seabird Remains, Bible Chapters, Limpet Shells, Crushed

field encloses the planet in a protective shield. It is believed that birds may be able to ‘see’ electromagnetic fields, and so use the changes

Wild Flowers, Porpoise Vertebra, Laboratory Glass, Fulmar Eggs and Hebridean Rock, Other Found Objects.

they detect to navigate a path and determine their position on long

An object of worship made for an isolated ascetic in search of an ideal

migrations around the globe.

life. A hybrid belief system where accepted objects of devotion have

At the Borders of the Known World

harsh environments. The limpets fixed to the Bible pages trace slow

become encrusted and returned to nature through long exposures to 2016, 540 x 200 x 70 mm

trails over the words. How many times have these psalms been sung

Grey Heron Remains, Metal Sheet, Small Bird Remains, Astrolabe

or the chapters read?

Model, Other Found Objects. A processional object for protection and guidance through new world landscapes.The astrolabe is a very ancient astronomical computer for solving problems relating to time and the position of the Sun and stars in the sky.

Birsay Sound 2014, 700 x 490 x 50 mm Sea Urchin Fragments, Guillemot Egg, Sheep Fleece, Sand, Sea Water, Raven Feather, Book of Common Prayer, Crab Remains Shells, Seal Teeth & Jaw, Fishing Line & Horsehair, Flowers, Meadow

Bear North at the Far West

Pipit Skull, Other Found Objects.

2014, 580 x 580 x 65 mm

These objects were collected from the Sound and Brough of Birsay

Seal Scapula, Songbird Remains, Deep Sky Star Atlas, Puffin Skull,

on Orkney while crossing the causeway at low tide. The Brough is an

Egg Remains, Carbon, Shrew Skeleton, Root, Crow Talons, Porpoise

ancient place of continuous settlement.

Tooth, Other Found Objects. The egg is a symbolic representation of the Universe, the origin and secret of being. Its hidden and mysterious inner workings conceal the miraculous development of life. The young will hatch and begin the long migration north, guided by the pole star in its constellation Ursa Minor - a celestial bearing to a common destination.

Bone Atlas: Chart 31 2014, 680 x 540 x 65 mm Oystercatcher Skulls, Seal Pelvis, Laboratory Glass, Deep Sky Star Atlas, Horsehair, Shell Sand, Crab Remains, Shells, Bird Remains, Other Found Objects. Pages from a star atlas showing the constellation Gemini. Twin

Between Dun and Stac Levenish

oystercatcher skulls and other remains form the asterism. All life is

2007, 630 x 1190 x 80 mm

made from elements formed from collapsed stars – everything is

Approaching Hirta, the main island of the St Kilda archipelago, sailing



Bone Atlas: Chart 53

Extrasolar (Beyond the Sun)

2014, 680 x 540 x 65 mm

2011, 320 x 840 x 45 mm (open)

Cow and Sheep Jaw Bones, Guillemot Egg Remains, Manx Shearwater Skull, Small Bird Remains, Root, Deep Sky Star Atlas, Horsehair, Butterfly & Moth, Other Found Objects.

Beyond the immediate Solar System – moving out past galaxies and on to the outer edges of the Universe where the Atlas of mythology, symbol of strength and endurance, holds the celestial sphere of

Pages from a star atlas showing the constellation Taurus. A cow’s

ancient astronomy on his shoulders.The Atlas is the topmost cervical

jawbone and other remains form the asterism. All life is made from

vertebra of the spine and supports the skull.

elements formed from collapsed stars – everything is connected.

Ex-Voto (56°19’N 5°58’W) Book of Saints & Martyrs 2013, 630 x 450 x 140 mm (open) Bird, Rabbit & Rat Skulls, Scallop Shell, Crab & Seal Claws, Bird Bone & Talons, Bitumen, Flowers, Metal Leaf, Thorns, Hedgehog Spines, Goose Egg, Other Found Objects.

2008, 1170 x 290 x 80 mm A votive offering for Carsaig Bay (Mull) using found material from the site. Ex-voto are made in gratitude or devotion and left in a sacred place for ritual purpose.

A small, portable altarpiece constructed for the use of an individual

Eynhallow Sound (Broch of Gurness)

who would daily sing, or recite verse, to honour the souls of its

2014, 720 x 570 x 70 mm


Sea Urchin Test, Spines and Aristotle’s Lantern, Cormorant, Greylag Goose and Oystercatcher Skulls, Seabird Remains.

Brother/Sister Kin 2015, 760 x 240 x 130 mm Driftwood, Seal Claws & Tooth, Rabbit Skulls, Crab Remains, Herring Gull Skull, Seaweed, Limpet & Mussel Shells, Soay Sheep Vertebra, Egg, Other Found Objects.

These seabird skulls were collected from the Sands of Evie, on the edge of Eynhallow Sound. The broken sea urchin was recovered from the shore below the Broch of Gurness (complex Atlantic Roundhouse), Orkney.

A kinship group mortuary vessel/totem housing the remains of extinct

Here Comes Your Old Navigator Again

life recovered from Western Scotland.

2015, 420 x 930 x 45 mm (open) Found objects collected from North Rona: Puffin Remain, Small Fish

Evangelical Songsters

and Fish Bones, Grey Seal Pup Remains, Leach’s Petrel Bones,

2015, 680 x 990 x 45 mm

Seasalt (North Atlantic), Sheep Wool, Shell Sand ,Rock Samples,

Small Bird Remains, Bird Photographs, Egg Remains, Seal Claws,

Photographs, Star Charts.

Horsehair, Insect Remains, Star Atlas, Thorns, Other Found Objects.

The peninsulas of Fianuis and Sceapull on the outlying island of North

A broad section of the northern celestial sphere rises from the island

Rona. Images of three seabirds symbolically encapsulate notions of

landscapes of western Scotland. As the Earth spins on its axis, relics

transcendence and rebirth, and are combined with the collected

of divinities appear to rotate around the fixed point of the pole star.

evidence of past island lives.

49 ∣

Leading Lights 270°

Ring of Brodgar and the Salt Knowe

2015, 295 x 490 x 65 mm (open)

2013, 350 x 1440 x 65 mm (open)

Seabird Remains (St Kilda), Seal Tooth, Soay Sheep Wool, Driftwood

Gannet and Cormorant Skulls, Flowers, Seaweed, Seal Teeth,

Block, Nautical Chart, Photographs, Star Atlas, Other Found Objects.

Heather, Stone Fragments, Horsehair, Meadow Pipit Leg, Other

An icon to navigation using collected objects from St. Kilda. A pair of beacons, or ‘seamarks’, give a position fix and indicate safe passage

Found Objects. The stone circle and three Neolithic mounds. An Orkney landscape.

for vessels passing Stac Levenish and sailing into Village Bay on the main island of Hirta.

Settlement Excavation 2015, 545 x 460 x 65 mm

Makers of the Starry Sky (Days of Devotion)

Small Rodent Remains, Laboratory Glass, Fulmar Egg Remains,

2011, 360 x 720 x 35 mm (open)

Sheep Wool, Other Found Objects.

Much of my work makes strong use of astronomical association: an

The excavation of a ritual site. A star group is revealed on the inside of

attempt to recognize the greater mystery inherent in the

a predated fulmar egg. The wire bisects the stars in a suggestion of

commonplace fragments of exhausted life.

astronomical alignment. The talon locating the site on Earth and the wishbone from a storm petrel navigating hope into the void. The glass

Messier Object 111 & 112

vials hold 206 bones, the number found in the modern human body.

2012, 420 x 460 x 70 mm It appeared below the southern fish and above the equator, crossed the equator, passed through Aquarius and the tail of Capricornus, where it ceased its apparition in the rays of the Sun. Charles Messier 1730 - 1817 Observation of Comet Halley in 1759 taken from his ‘Notes on my Comets’.

Sula Alba (Suffer this Bird to Fall to Earth) 2014, 860 x 440 x 65 mm Gannet Remains, Hebridean Sands, Driftwood, Fulmar & Goose Eggs, Sheep Fleece, Laboratory Glass, Fish Vertebrae, Other Found Objects. The Scottish goose, or northern gannet, transitioning between worlds

Path of the Old Sun

as – from heights of one hundred feet – it plunges through the ocean

2014, 410 x 770 x 100 mm (open)

surface, passing continually between realms in a repeated ritual of

Charcoal, Star Atlas, Rock Samples, Sea Water, Iron Filings, Frogs,

baptism and rebirth.

Bird and Crab Remains, Old Testament Verse, Ash, Insects, Metal

Sun Chariot (after Trundholm)

Leaf. The Sun will make an altar of the Earth. It is slowly expanding and brightening and will eventually become a red giant. The Earth will be engulfed, the oceans evaporated and life destroyed, before the Sun itself then collapses into a white dwarf.

2013 - 2014, 630 x 1020 x 70 mm Pony Jaw (Eriskay), Dolphin & Seal Rib, Seabird Bone, Redshank Skull, Sheep Jaws, Seal Claw, Crab Remains, Seabird Egg Fragments, Hedgehog Spines, Other Found Objects. During a period of ‘solar minimum’, a procession of New Ice Age figures begin their migration to a new star.


The Divine Atlantic

The Whole of What Turns

2015, 535 x 425 x 95 mm (open)

2015, 160 x 280 mm

Gannet and Kestrel Skulls, Black-Backed Gull Skull, Storm Petrel

Raptor Skull, Fulmar Egg, Wild Flowers, Limpet Shells, Other Found

Bones, Wild Flowers and Lichen, Tree and Root, Seabird Remains,


Moths and Butterflies, North Atlantic Sea Water, Star Atlas, Porpoise Teeth, Other Found Objects.

An astronomical model. A diverse collection of found objects constitutes an imagined Oort cloud defining the cosmographical

A reliquary for the North Atlantic. The recesses hold the saint-like

boundary of the Solar System and the limits of the Sun‘s gravitational

remains of a herring gull and northern gannet, their headdresses

influence. It is from this cloud that weakly orbiting objects become

adorned with crescent moons, stars and flowers. An inverted tree at

dislodged to fall towards the inner Solar System as comets.

the equator has its roots amongst the northern constellations. The glass vial of Atlantic seawater is substitute for a flame, to which moths

These Two Important Mysteries

and butterflies are repeatedly drawn.

2015, 300 x 170 mm

The English Hymnal (Books II and IV)

Flowers, Ptolemaic Solar System Map, Other Found Objects.

Fulmar Egg, Blackbird Skulls, Large Bird Ilium, Tail Feathers, Wild 2007, 710 x 610 x 95 mm Mistletoe, Poppy and Other Flowers, Butterflies and Moths, Finch Wings and Legs, Small Bird Skulls and Bones, Insects, Crow’s Foot, Shrew, Hare’s Whiskers, Feathers, Other Found Objects.

The contemplation of the sacred mysteries will include the development of personal theories; these will be undertaken in the knowledge that the sacred can never be fully understood.

Two of the eight books of hymns taken from a copy of the English

Wheel the Wide Realm

Hymnal. Each hymn is individually combined with collected natural

2015, 720 x 720 x 65 mm

objects, then burnt in a glass vial and sealed with resin to form a

Gull Wings, Manx Shearwater Skull, Seabird Remains, Goose Eggs,

natural relic.

Photograph (Stenness, Orkney), Water from Loch of Stenness and Harray, Hairbells and Scabious, Crab Remains, Other Found Objects.

The Flood 2010, 620 x 620 x 70 mm

A sky bearer spans a width of Heaven above the Stones of Stenness in the Orkney Islands – and between the waters of Loch Harray and

The Earth enclosed by the field of Heaven. Two surviving birds fly over

Loch Stenness, the bodies of water that enclose the ancient henge.

the receded waters. The raven, first to leave the Ark, is a symbol of

Hemispheres of egg-like star clusters and distant galaxies trail from

solitude and protector of prophets.

the birds tail and crown. Earthbound stilted figures rise up to be nearer Heaven.

51 ∣

Goldmark Gallery 14 Orange Street Uppingham Rutland LE15 9SQ 01572 821424 goldmarkart.com Text © Robert Macfarlane 2016 Poem © Kathleen Jamie Photographs © Richard James & Jay Goldmark Design Porter/Goldmark ISBN 978-1-909167-34-6 May 2016

Ex-Voto (56°19’N 5°58’W)

Born 1963

Northampton, East Midlands

Education 1980-84


Nottingham Hart Gallery, Christmas Exhibition


ArtLondon, Chelsea


Scottish Connections, Field Dalling Gallery, Norfolk


Artist Group, Yarrow Gallery, Oundle

Studied at the University of Northampton


Dolby Gallery, Oundle

Lives and works in Oundle, Northamptonshire


Scottish Connections, Field Dalling Gallery, Norfolk


Arthouse Gallery, Peterborough

Solo Exhibitions


Show Case, East Midlands Arts Council, Loughborough


Devotionals, Hart Gallery, London


Open Cube, Green Box Studio, Norfolk


Offshore, Hart Gallery, London


Arthouse 2, City Art Gallery, Peterborough


Transit, Hart Gallery, London


Alfred East Gallery, Kettering


Uranometria, Hart Gallery, London


Central Art Gallery, Peterborough


Edgelands, Hart Gallery, London

Group Exhibitions 2014


Guildhall Art Gallery, Northampton


Innovation, City Art Gallery, Leicester


Heffer Gallery, Cambridge

Unsung, Framers Gallery, London


Timeless, Riverhouse Gallery, Walton on Thames



London Art Fair, Islington

University of London


London Art Fair, Islington

Work in private collections in the UK and US

goldmark Uppingham Rutland

Profile for Goldmark Gallery

Richard James - Assemblages - Sample Pages  

Sample pages from May 2016 exhibition catalogue of Assemblage Art by Richard James.

Richard James - Assemblages - Sample Pages  

Sample pages from May 2016 exhibition catalogue of Assemblage Art by Richard James.