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The development of the artwork over the year

My final year work and degree show piece is a development of the last 2 years experimentation with metal and wood.

I have in mind a large instillation sculpture that will comment on the world we live in today but also reflects on the past in terms of the legacy of pain and suffering inflicted by armed conflict.

In 2014 we witnessed the 70th year commemorations of the D Day Landings, last year was the anniversary of the end of WW1. 2015 saw the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with the children of the survivors visiting the Nazi concentration camp. My grandfather Alex Ritchie was a D Day Veteran and also witnessed first hand the horrors of the Nazi death camps.

I believe that art has a duty to comment on and examine how we behave towards one another, opening the door to the debate about such behaviour, both to the positive and negative. Are we in the 21st century heading for the abyss – both in terms of our humanity and environmental behaviour?


Some early thoughts on the instillation sculpture.


After much thinking and sketching, I created scale drawings of the proposed installation sculpture. These two images or views give a good impression of what I intend to construct. The frame or cage for the large woeden pillars will be made of scaffolding, indicating the idea of a prison or confinement, hanging gallows or some other terrible form of human suffering. The wooden pillars depict the idea of the human spirit, hung in chains and made to suffer.


This is a scale model I made of the proposed installation sculpture. I wanted to do this to get a better idea of how the sculpture would work.


Over the summer I purchased 3 large timbers for the main pillars of the sculpture. They were then left to dry out over the summer and autumn.


Waxing the saw with a candle to help with the cutting process.


Loading the timbers for the trip to Dundee.

This is me cutting the timbers down to size.


The metal sheets that will form the hanging brackets from the pillars. The round bar steel rod that will form the loop for the brackets.


A selfie with my welding mask....LOL


My studio at DJCAD.


I'm going to need big screws and strong shackles to hold the brackets to the wooden pillars


Cutting the metal for the brackets

Brackets completed


Erecting and testing the scaffolding for the first time, what fun...


A clue as to what I'm going to do with wooden plaques on the sculpture...

4th Year Degree Show project for the completion of a
BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art

So this is it, my artwork instillation based on the terrible end consequences of armed conflict.

Over the summer of 2014 many global armed conflicts were escalating out of control with air strikes on UN hospitals, schools and areas of supposed safety for refuges, killing and maiming thousands of men woman and children.

So much pain and fear for ordinary people caught up in armed conflict – but like many people in the world I felt despair and anger at their appalling predicament. Angry at the fact I could do nothing apart from donate a few pounds here and there to various charity funds.

Subsequently, the consequences of armed conflict were in my head for most of the summer of 2014 and it started to shape my ideas and work for my final year project.

Art needs to stimulate debate and thought about the world we live in – the good and the bad.

This sculpture and artwork installation is not a political, religious or ideological statement.

The expression, motivation and concept of this artwork is based on the terrible end consequences of armed conflict. The artwork reflects ideas of pain – both physical and emotional. The artwork visualizes in a graphic context the loss and grief that’s inflicted on all peoples and nations, no mater their religious, political or ideological beliefs. The artwork also represents vulnerability, hopelessness, imprisonment, transition and the idea of death and the end of life in a violent and destructive situation. We all turn to dust…

It would seem to me, at no time in history has mankind been so involved and busy with armed conflict?

Please think about all the people and children of the world tonight who are frightened, homeless, and destitute, running for their lives, that are in a refugee boat and have lost family members through armed conflict or persecution of some form.

The pictures here are of the degree show. I hope you find the work thought provoking?

© James Ritchie 2015 All Rights Reserved

No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author. Commercial use and distribution of the contents of the website is not
allowed without express and prior written consent of the author.

James Ritchie BA (Hons) Fine Art – Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Dundee.


Does exposure to and debate about public art have educational relevance and benefits for young children?

A dissertation submitted as a requirement for the completion of the Bachelor of Art (Hons) Fine Art

Please click the PDF icon to see the dissertation. Thanks