James Hopkins

22/6/12 James Hopkins’s skull collection

While searching for Vanitas paintings on the internet, I discovered the works of James Hopkins who uses everyday objects in order to create a shape of the skull. One could argue that Hopkins uses a storage shelf in order to create different images or representations of the skull.

Through the viewer’s own interpretation, the image may require a closer observation in order to recognise the skull.  Hopkins uses very simple and basic shapes or compositions in order to create the eye-sockets, nose and teeth. From a personal perspective, Hopkin’s images are quite unique or distinctive and I wouldn’t mind having a bookshelf that featured an image of a skull.

According to Ossian Ward on James Hopkins’s official website, the artists work refer to ancient renaissance art and the Vanitas paintings, which used the image of the skull as a “symbol of mortality”. Ward also relates the artist’s work with Hans Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’, which presents the image of the skull from a different angle or perspective.

Hopkins also adopts a similar technique through his works, which reflect the image of skull when viewed at an angle. Hopkins also explains that the skulls feature items or materials that remind us of everyday life.

One could argue that each skull invites the audience to reflect upon a certain memory or experience. Each skull may reflect a different age group through the use of objects or materials such as beer bottles or disco lights, which Ward also explains on the artist’s website.

Hopkins effectively uses everyday materials in a creative manner, which invites the spectator to take a closer look at the image. The materials present very interesting materials, shapes and designs, which may encourage one to consider life, death and mortality.

Perhaps the images invites one to question whether materialism and mass production will outrun human life. Perhaps Hopkins’s work invites one to consider what will actually happen to all these material possessions when we die?

Ossian Ward, Off the Wall, Wallpaper, 2006, James Hopkins Official Website, http://www.jameshopkinsworks.com/writings_ward.html (Accessed 22/6/12)

Image Citations: 




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