Born in Stockport in Great Britain in 1973, Gilmour received his BA from the University of the West of England in Bristol, and studied at South Trafford College in Manchester. In 1997 he moved to Udine, Italy, where he is currently based. In 2006 a jury composed of Fabio Cavallucci, Daniela Clerici, Massimiliano Gioni, Gianfranco Maraniello, Marco Pierini and Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo awarded him the 7th edition of Premio Cairo, a prize for young artists in Milan.
The first pieces Gilmour made were in cardboard. Through his career and artistic development, there has been a progression in the choice of objects he portrayed, which go from smaller domestic items (like the moka or the typewriter) to objects which are larger and belong to a broader cultural context (the Fiat 500, the Lambretta and, more recently, James Bond's iconic Aston Martin).
Gilmour's choice of objects has always been based on their calling up memories and emotions connected to our experience of these (everyday) things. Since this is both a visual and conceptual work, Gilmour chooses objects for their visual appeal and cultural resonance, but he also usually chooses objects which imply an action or interaction of some sort. The interaction of the viewer with the works seems to function as a kind of short circuit between an implied action and the impossibility of performing it: one immediately wants to open the car door, or turn the wheel on the bike, but of course one can’t. This immediacy is important to enter Gilmour's work, to grab the viewer.
His earlier works were made with very clean cardboard aiming at a hyper-realistic effect which showed the material “at its best”, or rather seemed to do something impossible with it, making a perfect representation- indeed, many people assumed that the works were real objects that had been painted or covered in paper. More recent works are made from cardboard boxes which are still found on the street, but which show all the printing, tape, labels etc. This is in an attempt at concentrating on the material in its “natural state” and playing with the idea of these beautiful objects represented with a material from the waste basket, giving another dimension to the work by using scrap cardboard packaging which has been thrown away after the coveted objects it contained have been removed.
Gilmour's use of pre-existing materials, giving them a “new life” creates a connection between art and “recycling”, by re-appropriating or taking control of the things around us, which if you live in a city are pretty much all man-made. The use of re-cycled or found materials is brought about by our proximity to these things and their familiarity. One of the reasons for Gilmour's use cardboard is because it’s so easy to find- we have an immediate access to these recycled materials in a way that could never be possible with bronze or marble. It is also free of the historical and cultural weight of those classical sculptural materials, and can offer new readings of the work. By using a material which everybody knows and understands, Gilmour builds on the pre-existing associations to develop ideas and ways of reading the work. It’s a way of creating a language which is understood by many.
A key piece in Gilmour's work is the wheelchair, as this marks the change from earlier works with human figures to the current work without. In his previous works figures were used to tell a story about the object portrayed, whereby the interaction between the object and the viewer was a powerful element- the viewer brought his or her own story to the object, and didn't need a kind of theatrical set to explain the situation. People often had a very immediate reaction to Chris's earlier works- they tried to open the car door, or type on the typewriter, in a game of contrasts-real/not-real, functional/non-functional, heavy/light. The sensation that caused was to allow the viewer to project him/herself into the work. However, the reaction to the wheelchair was different- it was a slightly disquieting object and no one wanted to touch it.
Gilmour's art was influenced by the works of other sculptors who seem to share his interest in materials and give the impression that their ideas come from playing about with things. These include Anish Kapoor, Andy Goldsworthy, Tom Friedman, and Bill Woodrow.
- Marco Rossi, Milan
- Non è tutto come sembra, Marco Rossi, Milan
- Nothing is Real, Spazio Ersel, Turin
- All Things Solid, Freight and Volume, New York
- Disposable, Perugi Artecontemporanea, Padua
- Pussy Galore, Freight and Volume, New York
- Boxes, Perugi Artecontemporanea, Padua
- Objects, Perugi Artecontemporanea, Padua
- Velodream, BWA Gallery, Wroclaw
- Premio Michetti, Francavilla al Mare, Italy
- Archeologia del futuro, Rexistenz, Pietrasanta, Italy (curated by Alessandro Romanini)
- Officina Italia, Bologna (curated by Renato Barilli)
- Vivere e Pensare in Carta e Cartone, Museo Diocesiano, Milan (curated by Paolo Biscottini)
- Suspense, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice (curated by Carolina Lio)
- Slash – Paper under the Knife, Museum of Arts and Design, New York (curated by David Revere McFadden and Laura Stern)
- La Meglio Gioventù, Galleria Comunale d'Arte Contemporanea, Monfalcone (curated by Andrea Bruciati)
- Limite alla Rovescia, Palazzo Minucci, Vittorio Veneto (curated by Daniele Capra and Elena Forin)
- This End Up: The Art of Cardboard, The San Jose Museum of Art, California
- Living London, Zabludowicz Collection, London
- Living London, Zabludowicz Collection, London
- Pleins Phares/Full Beam, Musée National Cité de l'Automobile, Mulhouse, France
- Premio Cairo, Museo della Permanente, Milan
- Defrag, Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan (curated by Ivan Quaroni & Norma Mangione)
- Beauty So Difficult, Fondazione Stelline, Milan (curated by Michele Robecchi)
- Meravee, Villa di Ariis, Udine, (curated by Sabrina Zannier)
- Storie contemporanee, Museo Archeologico, Bergamo, (curated by Paola Tognon)
- Orange Juice, Spazio Futuro, Roma, (curated by Emanuela Nobile Mino)
- Popheart & Generazione MTV, Light Gallery, Faenza, (curated by Guido Bartorelli)
- Such a Joy, Galleria Comunale Arte Contemporanea, Castel San Pietro, Bologna, (curated by Marco Altavilla, Gudio Bartorelli and Daniela Lotta )
- Sculpture, Perugiartecontemporanea, Padova, (curated by Guido Bartorelli )
- Lovers, Mutandis, Bologna, (curated by Daniela Lotta and Elena Bordignon )
- Quotidiana, Padua, (curated by Guido Bartorelli and Silvano Schiavon)
- Zoo, Heaton Hall, Manchester City Galleries (curated by Virginia Tandy)
- Official website
- Chris Gilmour's Works in the Dikeou Collection
- Recycled Cardboard Sculpture by Chris Gilmour
- Cardboard Realism – Chris Gilmour Sculptures
- Cardboard Art! Chris Gilmour Turns Trash Into Treasure
- Chris Gilmour's Cardboard Sculpture
- Repurposed Art: The Second Life of Cardboard
- Chris Gilmour's Cardboard Art
- Cardboard cut-outs: How one man turns rubbish into art
- All Things Solid