Friends Studio Visit: Sculptor Laurence Edwards


Friday 30 November 2018

It is rare to be able to gain access to an artist’s studio, they are places like the recesses of a mind where ideas are borne and considered before they are ever let out into the public eye. They are in every sense private spaces, and yet to be invited into these is to step behind the finished object and to see their inner workings much like taking the back off a clock. They can be extraordinarily beautiful in their execution of process. So it was when we stepped into the first of two studios belonging to sculptor Laurence Edwards. This was his day or ‘Morning Studio’ up on the remote towns of Suffolk. A place that was once a Fire Station and is now a light infused, detritus strewn start point for all of Laurence’s works. In the corner are a set of dented metal tubs holding murky mouldy clay. This sort of embryonic soup is the recycled clay that his destroyed sculptures go into, only to be resurrected again into new forms. ‘My earliest sculpture is probably in there’ muses Laurence as we stare at his latest ongoing work. Handfuls of clay wrestled and pulled over asteel armature that still protrudes through in places, a primordial figure wrestling out of the ground. It is proving impossible to take it all at once so we fire questions at random, why Reindeer horns cast in wax? – Inspiration from a wild trip up onto the Russian Tundra to study the Reindeer herders with one of the countries leading anthropologists. Laurence tells of a Russian approach to travel where breaking down and fixing your means of transport are as much part of the journey as the destination itself. ‘It was a remarkable experience’ he said ‘to journey for days and to meet these people who had probably never had contact with western humans before and to witness their relationship with the land was extraordinary.

There are also a fine set of Antlers on the wall and we alight on them by way of contrast I could not work with those Laurence answers there is too much heraldic significance, feudal weighting, but these (the antlers smuggled back from Russia) these speak of something else ‘They are admittedly much smaller and certainly less grand, more accessible perhaps and we muse on the distinction. Other parts of the building are set aside for working in Wax, this perhaps is the material or moment that really defines Laurence’s work. Having trained at the Royal College of Art and won the Henry Moore Scholarship, it was really the process o f bronze casting that became his fascination with a life aim of mastering both modelling and casting work. In achieving this he is one of the rarer artists working today and certainly process is very much at the forefront of his work. Process is the topic that we turn to as he leads us through a complicated figure in wax, wood and rope that is on a stand in the middle of the room. ‘This figure is out of memories that have been percolating in my mind since coming back from the outback of Australia in Spring 2018. There the landscape makes such extraordinary impact on your mind, I remember desicated foxes hung off trees and wire fencing that has withstood deluges of flood borne detritus that has clung on through months of heat. ‘These thoughts have become in Laurence’s work – a small figure stands with arms outstretched weighted down by organic material. We begin to learn about how decisions are being made here relating to the bronze casting process. Runners and Risers (the tributaries for hot liquid bronze entering the mould and the escape of air). What looked at first to be a piece of rope or twig leading off from the midriff of figure may in fact turn out to be the escape route for air a it is replaced by bronze in the casting process -or i t may be both. The duality of form and purpose here leaves us all wanting to understand more about the bronze casting process itself, so after wandering the various rooms of his studio which seem so laden with idea in a state of flux we went in pursuit of the finished object: an altarpiece at Blythborough church a few miles away.

Read more about sculptor Laurence Edwards at https://messumswiltshire.com/laurence-edwards-sydney/

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