That Amazon delivery box you’ve chucked in the recycling bin might not mean much to you – but in the hands of artist James Lake, cardboard takes on almost limitless possibilities. The talented UK sculptor has been working with cardboard for 20 years, manipulating the medium into human sculptures and other objects full of expression and detail. James, who describes cardboard as a “brilliant material to work with,” challenges viewers to see the extraordinary in things often dismissed as mundane.
When James was 17, he developed bone cancer that ended with the amputation of his right leg. Despite, or perhaps because of, these struggles, he developed a passion for the arts that he’s channeled into sculpting cardboard. “When I first started making sculpture I decided to use cardboard as my medium of choice,” says James on his website. “I wanted a medium that can be used to sculpt beyond traditional material and without the need of an arts studio. The end result was the fine crafting of an inexpensive common place and recyclable material. I manipulate cardboard into taking a form which is vastly beyond its original function as a container to transport food and commercial goods.”
In addition to his personal work and commissions, James’ work has been displayed in schools and as part of community projects. His use of cardboard goes beyond its cost-effective advantages; James believes the use of a ubiquitous material makes his sculptures more accessible “and blur the boundary between high art and low art.” As a self-described “diversity/inclusion artist,” James regularly holds art workshops with disadvantaged members of the community and provides resources to local schools and colleges. Learn more in the Rajapack’s video above.