The Adam Reynolds Award and bursary is designed to support the practice of a mid-career disabled artist. James Lake will work with Shape Arts and Hot Knife Digital Media on an exciting new commission.

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Production is underway on a new commission as part of the 2023 Adam Reynolds Award, given to artist James Lake, with support from Shape Arts and Hot Knife Digital Media. The ARA offers mid-career disabled artists development opportunities and creative commissions in addition to a £10K bursary. 

As part of the annual award programme, James’ commission will translate the texture of his sculptural work into a digital environment, marking an evolution of James’ practice that aims not only to provide an opportunity for creative and professional development but further to reach new audiences, refine his craft, and bring his sculptures to life. 

Responding to timely concerns around the cost of living, climate emergency, and social isolation, James’ work in progress - set to premiere in early 2024 - marks the latest in a series of ongoing collaborations between Shape Arts and Hot Knife Digital Media in which the potential of creative technology to provide improved access to culture is harnessed, continuing both organisations’ experiments in this emerging artistic field.

Jeff Rowlings, Head of Programmes, Shape Arts, said: “James Lake is an artist whose acclaimed practice has made an impression on the Shape team for years, with a rare craftsmanship that uses cardboard to bring to life people and gestures in moments of pure sculptural alchemy. We are thrilled to make James our 2023 Adam Reynolds Awardee, and to have the chance to work with him on a moving image project that will take the sculptural process into a different reality, and in the process connect new audiences to James’ talent and ideas.”

James Lake, artist, said: “It feels significant to be recognised in the same company as previous awardees. As an artist, I’ve been individually working for some time to create small inroads to supporting disability art and inclusive practice, however, the opportunity to collaborate and use the core ingredients of my practice to create a new body of work is momentous. I’m excited to see how my analogue practice is translated and strengthened through digital techniques. Shape Arts have been an enormous source of professional support and encouragement, sharing experience and knowledge.”

About the artist

James Lake (Exeter, UK) works predominantly with cardboard as a sculptural medium, favouring its recyclability, affordability, and availability. Producing sculptures which echo the detail and depth found within more ‘traditional’ practice, James’ work reflects ongoing economic and environmental upheaval in a search for common truth and the quiet humanity of small details, ordinarily drowned out by the noise and brightness of contemporary culture.

By transforming the utilitarian and overlooked cardboard box into a sophisticated and elaborate artistic medium, James not only converses with the materiality and precariousness of a creative career, but also exposes the practicalities of making work with a physical impairment. Furthermore, through his evolving lexicon of the textures, layers, and properties of cardboard as medium, James’ own dyslexic approach to problem-solving and communication is not just exposed but celebrated. To this end, James regards the sharing of his work as a method to break down barriers for others, too.

Banner image: James Lake with his sculptures ‘Time’ (2020) and ‘Effects of Lockdown’ (2020), left to right. Image credit: Oscar Fox. Description: James Lake, centre stage, a white man with glasses and using crutches, stands between two of his lifesize cardboard sculptures. On the left, a sculpture of a woman with her arm outstretched holding a pen, as though she is writing, as a flag or banner emerges from the pen above her head. On the right, a young man looking down at a smartphone in his hand.