James Smith

James Smith is based in Northampton. After completing an MA in Photography (2012) at the Royal College of Art, James has gone on to be shown in both solo and group exhibitions across the UK. These include: Temporal Dislocation, Photofusion, London (2012), London Overspill, UH Galleries, Hatfield, (2012), Luton Overlay, Departure Lounge (2012/13), Estate, Gibberd Gallery, Harlow (2014) and Parkway, Peterborough Museum, Peterborough (2014).

James is also a visiting lecturer to a number of other universities and has work in private and public collections.


James Smith, Heavy Simplicity (Patterned), green, black & orange, 002 (2011)


Describe your practice for us

Underpinning my long term research and practice is a debate regarding the architecture of territory and the projection of politics, through aesthetic and cultural definitions of geographic positioning within the English landscape. The articulation of territory through form can be seen as a presentation of intuitive structures that radiate and demand their coexistence within a landscape. A structural rhetoric of the obstinate, the stubborn and the immovable become established chapters of identification.


James Smith, Heavy Simplicity (Patterned), green, black & orange, 002 (2011)


How long have you been practising?

Since October 2001, the first month after graduating from a B.A in Fine Art, but I graduated from the MA Photography programme at the Royal College of Art in 2012. This was a defining moment in actually ‘knowing’ what I am, a professional artist. It is of note that I had an 11-year gap between BA and MA, this was a little too long, but during this period I was making work constantly as well as working to pay the bills. My advice to any BA student that may be reading this is: do not go straight from one to the other, for the most part this is counter productive in the long term to ones development as an artist. Being an artist isn’t a weekend pursuit nor is it primarily only about making work, it is also about understanding and dealing with everyday pressures and annoyances of life, and how to carve time out for your practice.


James Smith, Brutal Relics, gold leaf, 001 (2014-2016)


What is the most interesting/inspiring thing you have seen/been to over the last month, and why?

Richard Mosse Incoming, at the Barbican, London (be quick, it finishes soon I think). He is rightly becoming one of the most recognised and respected visual artists to come from Ireland. This and his previous work are so on point, political, socially, aesthetically; Mosse’s practice has the ability to resonate deep. And every time I walk by Eduardo Paolozzi’s Piscator at Euston station, London I give it a loving touch.


James Smith, Brutal Relics, concrete sample (polished), (2014-2016) 002


Which other artists’s work do you admire, and why?

Lewis Baltz – In my mind built the benchmark, still relevant 50 years on. Tract Houses is my all time top favourite.

Elisabeth Neudöerfl – My quiet favourite from the Düsseldorf School of photography.

Richard Mosse – I went to FOAM in Amsterdam a couple of years back especially to see The Enclave. I was blown away by the magenta haze – stunning.

Jörg Sasse – A refreshing slant on the document / Fine art photography debate.

Geert Goiris – Calm, but super expansive narratives, beautiful.

Jem Southam – If Jem was German or American he’d be held on a par with the highest artists in their respected countries, Britain still hasn’t woken up to photography


James Smith, Civic Stage, support column, 004 (2016)


Where can people see your work?

I’m currently exhibiting at NN Contemporary Art, Northampton, with Memorability as an Image. A book has been produced to accompany the exhibition. It features newly commissioned essays by Jonathan Hale, Ben Highmore & Nicholas Smith, plus a further photographic study appearing in the exhibition of the Greyfriars Bus Station. On Saturday 22 April I’ll be giving a tour of the exhibition and a walking tour of the Brutalist buildings of Northampton, during which people will be able to find out more about my artwork and about Northampton’s architectural heritage.

My work can also be seen on my website.


James Smith, Civic Stage, ventilation shafts, 003 (2016)


James was interviewed in April 2017.




1. Civic Stage, flagpoles, 2016

2.Heavy Simplicity (Patterned), green, black & orange, 2011

3.Heavy Simplicity (Patterned), green, orange & cream, 2011

4. Brutal Relics, gold leaf, 2014-2016

5. Brutal Relics, concrete sample (polished), 2014-2016

6. Civic Stage, support column, 2016

7. Civic Stage, ventilation shafts, 2016

Images are courtesy of the artist.