Between April and September 2013, James Thompson spent 95 days (from 7 pm until 11 pm due to opening hours of the nearby sports club) in a former confinement cell in High Royds Psychiatric Hospital in West Yorkshire, the north of England. The results of that stay are a jesmonite and wood furniture collection cast in the shape of the negative space within the cell.
"High Royds is a large self-contained complex, and prior to its closure and subsequent re-development the site was restricted to the public, so I have always been curious about it," says Thompson. "Like so many other similar sites across the country, it has become a relic of our social history, as these types of places are no longer needed. So the opportunity to document this space before it is converted or demolished was important to me, with the work produced ultimately serving as the last remnants of that space."
Thompson's collection is a series of tables, surfaces and chairs, all cast in jesmonite, silicone and fibreglass from architectural elements in the cell that have been captured using a digital scanner – the area where the corner of the room connects with the door, a window frame, an air vent. The resultant forms are irregular and fragmentary, offering snippets of the cell from which they were formed, and shaped around ash frames or foam upholstery blocks.
"It was important to choose a space to record which was self contained, with a defined geometry and limited architectural elements," says Thompson. "The process is about trying to find new understandings of a space."