Recombination Point


Recombination Point is a tower of individual aluminium foam blocks which have been merged as a result of Balmforth’s thermic lancing intervention. The molten flow has encouraged the infiltration of one layer into another, contributing to the integrity of the structural whole. The angular edges of the aluminium are juxtaposed with the frozen residues of the heat and intensity inherent to the thermic lancing process.

Through the direct encounter and manipulation of materials and processes, James Balmforth has created a triptych of site-specific works in the grounds at CASS: Recombination Point, Meeting Point and Boundary Interface, which is the final work in this series. Aluminium foam (a new material for Balmforth) was chosen for its unusual properties and ability to catalyse the chemical reaction that takes place during thermic lancing.

The process of thermic lancing was developed in the post-industrial era as a way to dismantle and decommission heavy-duty equipment and materials. Pressurised oxygen is used to melt a bar of burning steel, creating extreme temperatures that can rapidly cut through substantial industrial materials. In order to create Recombination Point, Balmforth has modified the equipment to react specifically with the aluminium foam, evoking material response and expressivity. These investigational processes ultimately illustrate material responses and phenomenological outcomes, providing alternative understandings of the limitations and potential of both material and process.

This CASS Projects is supported by Arts Council England, Hannah Barry Gallery and William Benington Gallery.


About The Artist

James Balmforth’s works are the outcome of an ongoing exploration and negotiation with materials, processes and transformation. He employs industrial techniques and mechanical apparatus to expose materials to forces such as extreme pressures or heat, evoking material expressivity. With a variety of methods and tools, Balmforth pushes materials to their physical limits and reveals thresholds, margins of tolerance, moments of transformation and their resultant forms or outcomes.

His practice uses sculpture and sculptural processes to draw out threads of material properties and capabilities, exploring symbolic mechanisms and how these can contribute to our ideas about history and society. Preoccupied with notions of limitation, thresholds and degradation, Balmforth’s management of subject and material focuses on the breaking points in a system, material or process and points towards the constructive outcomes of creative anarchy and destruction. By revealing the redemptive potential in collapse and degradation, the artist sees his work as exposing a latent potential, offering an optimistic, rather than fatalistic, worldview.

‘Recombination Point’ is currently on display

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Visiting Information

James Balmforth

Born: 1980

Other Artworks by James Balmforth at CASS


Failed Obelisk

Balmforth's Failed Obelisk redefines our relationship to the obelisk, an object that is synonymous with technical achiev…