/ Laurence Edwards ‘A Gathering of Uncertainties’
‘A gathering of uncertainties’
14 September – 19 October 2019 PREVIEW & FILM SCREENING: Friday 13 September RSVP WORKSHOP: Drawing with Clay, Sat 19 October, 2-3pm Bookings TALK & FILM SCREENING: ‘Man of Stones’, Sat 19 October, 6:30pm Bookings
This September, we present a two venue exhibition across our Wiltshire and London galleries by sculptor Laurence Edwards. The preview party will be the first chance to see this extraordinary new body of work, including the iconic ‘Man of Stones’ before it is rehomed at the Sainsbury Centre. The preview party will also include the screening of Colossus a film by Phil Cairney, part of a study into the male psyche and Edwards’ ongoing project to create one of the largest bronze sculptures and an edifice to evolution and includes interview footage with the artist. The Mess Restaurant will be open and can be booked in advance.
Half way through her book ‘Time songs – searching for Doggerland’ Julia Blackburn meets Professor Leendert Louwe Kooijmans, a specialist in Post Glacial, Northern Europe. Whilst they handle stone tools and implements some 8000 years old he says:
‘Studying simple yet beautiful worked tools and weapons over the years, you begin to see things through the mind of the people that made them and the landscapes they inhabited, the climate the vegetation and even the animals living near by. What you learn from these objects is not expertise but a gathering of uncertainties, and it is from these that we must work.’
The two such ‘large gatherings’ of bronze – on show at Messums London and Messums Wiltshire made by Laurence Edwards echo Professor Leendhart’s sentiments: A large figure hosts the detritus of a drained river or some dried out lake, hanging from his outstretched arms, (After the flood, 2010-2019); A supine body simultaneously cushioned and suspended whilst being pierced, is a spiritually connected yet an ungainly intruder in an ethereal world of reed and sapling, some 16ft high (Reed-bed, 2019); A nomadic 8ft man covered in stones and detritus stands in weary acknowledgment of his role in an interconnected world, his individual actions for survival contributing to a larger demise (Man of Stones, 2019); Caravans of men walk with intent, some amidst ambivalent barricades and walls, others connected through filament and twine reliant on each other.
These sculptures seem aware of the consequences of their actions – they allude to a natural empathy but suffer the contradiction that their mere existence may contribute to a decline.
It is this new unavoidable truth that Laurence grapples with. His bound figures also point to these conflicts, tying themselves literally up in knots, or cladding themselves in cubist armour. As boundaries between ourselves and nature blur and the identifying features of masculinity shift.
It is apposite that he is making figures at the time of ‘The Anthropocene’, when the actions of humans have now registered in the geological record. His work is about brevity set hard. Through the metaphor of bronze casting with its relative permanence, he alludes to the impermanence of earth, land and geology. In the London exhibition you can see evidence of his time spent in Northern Siberia with reindeer herders, whose ancient way of life relies on timeless relations with environment and creatures. Traps, snares, bindings and antler appear amidst compositions collaged with figures. The tendons and sinew of attenuated men stretch over willow frames speaking of ancientness and of a contemporary neurosis and uncertainty.
Laurence Edwards lives near the crumbling cliffs of the Suffolk coast where sedimentary layers yield tooling, bone, fossil and flint as well as the fleeting – a family’s footprints, the prance of a crane, the slip of a child 850,000 years ago. His bronzes seek to capture this sense of permanence and those fleeting absent minded moments that you see it in the tying of a knot or the dribble of wax. Unconscious studio acts, that like ancient footprints, seem to amplify with age and permanence.
In A Gathering of Uncertainties Laurence Edwards seeks to leave a record in which others might imagine or find a maker, or perhaps feel the time in which things were made, and excavate subconscious acts which might lay under the surface, in turbulent times.
Laurence Edwards studied bronze casting techniques in India and now uses the bronze casting itself as part of the language of his artistic expression. Unique among sculptors, and certainly those that use the figure as their principle language, is Laurence’s association with the act and art of bronze making. Bronze casting is an alchemic process, passed on like DNA from generation to generation. Edwards has studied bronze casting more than most and built his first foundry on the Suffolk Marshes where you can still find ancient ingots of bronze squirrelled into the soil by those who once travelled the country plying smelting as a trade.
Edwards is uniquely alone in this fertile territory moving seamlessly across those perceived borders. The vitality that is preserved as a consequence of having a hand to the entire process is evident in the finished work, but it also allows for the viewer to see and to respect the process of making set within the wider concept of the exhibition…read more