6 May – 11 June 2023
Australia has significantly impacted the work of British sculptor Laurence Edwards. This influence is particularly evidenced in his monumental 6ft sculpture ‘After the Flood’. The original title of this work was ‘The Catcher’ but its meaning altered following the sculptor’s visit to Australia in 2018 and the presentation of the work in Sydney and Melbourne where it received a powerful response from Australian audiences. A sculptor ever conscious of the impact of climate change and environmental disaster, Edwards awareness of the flooding which devastates communities in Australia, made him see this work differently and consequently re-imagine the figure into one catching debris, drawn-out and stretched like wire fencing strewn with detritus after a flood. The patination and materiality of his work too began to chime with evolving responses to environment, consciously expressed or otherwise, that continue to pervade his working practice today.
The work of Laurence Edwards explores the complex relationship between man, nature and the environment. His figures look back and forth, connecting ancient history with our present and future. They percolate with contemporary doubt, evoke human vulnerability, and have the ability to emotively connect across place and time.
Edwards has activated the traditional method of bronze casting, and specifically the lost wax process, into his own creative language finding expression through his experiments with iterations of making. His inclusion of organic matter in the casting literally embeds the landscape in his sculpture, fusing figure and environment. Sculptures such as ‘Leaf Man’ embody Edwards’s fascination with the lost wax process of casting. By breaking up the surface of the body he reveals the nature of the cast itself, turning attention to the void contained within the bronze, making this visible. In doing so, Edwards again closely relates the process of his making with the essence and meaning of his work.
A Gathering of Uncertainties, first exhibited at Messums Wiltshire in Summer 2022, was shown at Orange Regional Gallery in New South Wales, Australia from 4 February until 16 April 2023. It proved one of the most popular in the Gallery’s 35-year history with over 8,000 visitors.
This is an extract from Fiona Gruber’s essay which accompanied the exhibition:
“With their slabby pitted surfaces and slurried patinas, Laurence Edwards’s figures appear to have been roughly formed from the clay of creation. They are encrusted with the organic adhesions – twigs, twine, grass, leaves – that come from being born of the soil but also of having travelled through landscapes and interacted with them. Whether at rest or in motion, Edwards’s sculptures are explorers in a world of changing circumstance.
His figures suggest both potency and fragility; he is fascinated by the idea of mutation and entropy, a concept in science that is most commonly associated with disorder and randomness, of change, but which applies equally in a socio-historical context and in the context of making.
Edwards’s relationship with Australia began in 2013 and he has exhibited here several times. Through travelling, his sculptures have attracted new narratives. One in particular, After the Flood, a figure which seems to sprout wings, or a yoke of organic debris, originally had the title The Catcher. In its initial iteration, Edwards saw the man’s burden as personal and psychological but after learning of the devastating floods that sweep the eastern States with increasing frequency, he began to see the figure in a new light.” Fiona Gruber