The Ancestors is a set of two architectural forms, which were constructed in response to the concept of ‘the ancestral home’, and the implications that inherited traits (both genes and wealth) are conveyed in the form of architecture. The works are prominently displayed in Chatsworth, known as being among the grandest mansions in Britain, and is the residence of the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire.

As Rigler so aptly describes this process; “Ordinary things are amazing: familiar to the point of invisibility, yet charged with significance. We form intimate relationships with everyday things through touch, and every object has its own story or even a history. Everyday things are as intriguing as ‘important’ objects”.

Installation Details

  • Ancestor I, 2013 – press-moulded glazed earthenware, vinyl, steel, oak, 80 x 70 x 55 cm
  • Ancestor II, 2013 – press-moulded glazed earthenware, vinyl, steel, oak, 80 x 70 x 55 cm

Rigler is inspired by how we become attached to tactile objects and seem to form “intimate relationships” with them. By using them and being in constant skin contact with them, we imprint sentimental meaning into these objects, taking a mundane functional toll and making it a cherished treasure – with monumental meaning attached. While his work has a “theatrical” tone to it, it also conveys a familiarity, alluding to an underlying narrative and glimpse into the viewers’ personal history. In his endevour to manufacture spaces and pieces which are both curious and functional, he aims to examine “the strange space between the ordinary and the extraordinary.”

James Rigler uses his work to explain that architecture is made up of many shapes and symbols that provide more information about the society in which they are built than the function of the architecture alone. In the Ancestors I & II, his message is this; “History, wealth, belief, hierarchy; all these things are present in the brick, stone, and glass of our cities. By examining these hidden messages we can question the values and power structures that they represent.”