Back from the other side of the planet, a successful exhibition was had at 12 Mary’s Place Paddington Sydney, A historic gallery in Sydney recently re-opened by the ‘Defiance Gallery’ we virtually sold out with orders for editions..The show is now open in Melbourne at a brand new space .
Got a chance to travel. We got to Orange over the Blue Mountains where we were hosted by amazing Wine and food growers and met up with my sculptor friend Harrie Fascher at her wonderful studio in Oberon…
Get an idea of her work, studio and life, and the great person artist….she is…by watching this film…
she’s just won a $50,000 prize …
Lots of Horses at her studio…one was shot outside my bedroom window one bright morning.. it was old. I have to say I’m disappointed to find my photography only recorded the grimmest of things… Here’s the aftermath after I’d had breakfast and brushed my teeth…
Then we went to the ‘Bush’ to meet Stirling Dixon (Farmer and ecologist) at Taralga , part of the Tarlo National Park.. where foxes are not wanted..
Brought over by us Brits .. they wreak havoc with the indigenous mammal and bird population, small marsupials and ground nesting birds suffer terribly.. Stirling and friends attempt to keep them under control.. a fine welcome…
Here he is leading the way on a small expedition.. well across a stream….
Eucalyptus where he pointed out striations on the bark where flying squirrels sucked sap at night.
stunning interior built by himself sensous earth floor.
From left Harrie, Stirling, Anne and Jan.. who told me tales of travelling, looking for rock art in the Kimberley’s (far north Aboriginal territory).. where a wasp nest covering a rock painting had been removed and carbon dated.. and was found to be 20,000 yrs old….painting could have been 40,000..
Trees six months after a forest fire..Stirling got a new bush trained dog, that went missing on its first night.. so well-trained was it that in the morning 80 wild goats were herded at the front of the house (these and wild pigs are the scourge of the bush apparently) Stirling was able to sell them on to the local restaurants.. a lovely dish, one we delighted in that night.. good dog!
Apparently poor thing was gorged by a miffed Billy the next day…that was the end of him…
The wonderful shower..water warmed by a fire .
One of the many termite mounds reminding me of my ‘Sylvan man”
Hello… I have a new show opening at ‘Messums’ London next tuesday the 16th, and rather excitingly we cant have a party, so we’re having a zoom chat instead. Johnny Messum and I will walk around the show and discuss it… Hope you can make it, if not I’m sure it will be available to watch on the Messum’s Wiltshire website..
The work represents a new departure for me, made during the first lockdown. Plaster figures sliced up and reconstructed, who became my audience, companions even confidents!! through those lonely months.. Its a special show for me here’s the link to the free event.
And here for you delictation is a brief preview of the work, The plasters are being shown alongside the bronzes, on the same stands used in the studio, will be interesting to compare and contrast, especially now the plasters are repaired and glued together after fragmenting in the mouldmaking adding another layer to the experience.
They’re all around 60cms high…
Looking forward to seeing you there, tell all your friends!!!
In 2018 Edwards was awarded a commission by Doncaster Council to create a sculpture that celebrates the lives of those who had worked in the pits around Doncaster.
The sculpture consists of 40 portraits of former miners, whom Edwards sculpted in wax while they told their stories. These sessions were filmed by Doncaster College to form part of an online archive. In February 2021, A Rich Seam was installed in Doncaster City centre. The bronze faces sit in hand-made crevices of two 20 tonne pieces of York Stone from Huddersfield, with a central miner figure between them. 
Robert Macfarlane expressed that ‘In this unique project, Laurence Edwards has created a new kind of stone book: an extraordinary double-archive – told in bronze and told the story – of a generation and a community that is now close to disappearing.
Tadaaa….Finally after 4 years, here is Doncaster’s “A Rich Seam.” A tribute to Doncaster’s Mining community.’
Forty tonnes of York Stone arrived from Huddersfield, at the crack of dawn on Valentines day…but the crane didn’t!
So we unloaded the miner and placed him in the centre of the rather splendid Plinth.. and waited anxiously!
Like the seventh cavalry our lovely 100 tonne crane arrived at midday! Only 5 hours behind shedule. The first one had broken down, the second was too small.. so a ‘Mate’ with a crane in Leeds was asked to ‘do us a favour’… leaving an understandably irrate wife on a rather special morning!!
Our miner waited nervously as he was put into place the next day…
Reggie and George made sure the rocks sat safely, concreting, rather splendidly, between the cracks and crevices…
I did a great job at masking my confusion ‘Did I leave a box at home’??
Danny Heaton the man who took these photo’s was even co opted whilst I changed drill bits.
I’m not known for my perfectionism..
It all looks fantastic, better than I could of imagined.! In the quarry the rock looked aggresive and brutal.. but in the street it’s golden hues simmered and bounced off the buildings. It’s presence seemed to lend a sense of humanity to the street..
Whilst we were there the varieties of Yorkshire light showed themselves.
This was the sun at 3 o’clock!
The street is now being relaid with beautiful York stone slabs, lighting and seating. We are creating the information points which will guide the visitor to the forty films made to accompany each head, showing the modelling sessions and the testimony’s of each miner featured, a valuable archive set down for the future.. A big thankyou to camera shy Tom whose planning and forsight made it all happen on the day!!
The street opens at the beginning of April, so you’ll be able to visit then. We hope for a grand opening with brass bands and banners sometime this summer when the restrictions have hopefully lifted… watch this space, and thankyou for coming….
This month i’m taking you to a quarry in Yorkshire where we are carving niches for 40 miners portraits, for the public sculpture i’m making to celebrate Doncaster’s mining history.
To be installed next February.
Then you will see a Norman Soldier.. yes.. this one’s come out of the blue. A commission I recieved three years ago, (and had forgotten about) finally recieved its planning permission and suddenly a tight deadline presented itself.. alot of fun.. you’ll agree!!
Anyway enough of me.. lets go to the quarry…
‘Johnsons Wellfied’ in Huddersfield, where Freddy Morris my trusty stone carver and I stayed for ten days, cooking beautiful food (ready meals from the Co-op). Huddersfield is a truly beautiful Victorian town set on the edge of the Peak District in Yorkshire, I loved being there.. Here’s a photo Essay of the work done, black and whites by Bill Jackson, colour by me.
I think it’ll be a random set of photos, not in any particular order….
These are giant blocks of York stone, weighing about 25 tonnes each..
We drilled pilot holes first to establish where we were going to chisel..
At times it felt as if we were wandering through corridors of heads in ancient streets.
This stone recieves light so beautifully, I realised it would have been impossible to replocate this effect in any other material.
Excuse the armpit!
It became apparant early on that the heads should flow with the contours of the rock, they were set at different angles in harmony with the topography of the surfaces, bringing the viewing experience to life.
I decided to work with the scarring on the rocks, where the machinery had gashed and brutalized the surface..
This is John Davies, (above) who sadly succumbed to Covid this year, he is the first miner featured on the rocks to have passed away.
The blocks now sit and wait. A 6ft miner is being cast at the foundry and he will eventually stand between them in a newly refurbished street in Doncaster..
Next we have a 2mtre high Norman Soldier returning home to ‘Sweyns Camp’ in Ebbsfleet Kent, to a waiting family.
The sculpture is called the ‘Homecoming’ and has been commissioned to go on a site where once there was a Norman settlement, now a housing develpment.
I wanted there to be a certain anxiety as well as hope in his face and indeed, in the way he holds the ropes . I wanted to convey a man returning home after a long time away, having been through life changing experience. To a family that may also have changed.
His helmut hangs on his shield.. I love the shield, it was also a device I could use to express his emotional state, battered and scarred.
I loved hanging all the accoutrements on him, ambigous enough so the viewer could imagine what their purpose might be and what they may contain. Also making the tunic out of my old work overalls..
We start the casting after Christmas, and he’s due to be installed in April next year. If we are lucky we might be able to show him in Messum’s London space before he goes.
Well this is my opportunity to show the world what I made during Lockdown. I managed after a faltering start to get quite a bit done..
I suffered the anxiety of suddenly having a load of time with the business shut down. I couldn’t escape the feeling that in this ‘historic incredible time’ everything had to be brilliant, salient, relevant and about the now.. so after a series of works based on bog rolls and grabbing everything in the supermarket I gave up..
I started work on studio repairs, plastering the walls putting shelves up painting, tiling you know the sort of thing.. then! There was plaster left over in buckets that had to be used, (Can’t stand waste) I started to fill random moulds around the studio with the excess..
After a few weeks I’d inadvertently built up a collection of figure sculptures in plaster.. I remembered that i’d been intrigued by the scaling up process we used for the giant sculpture we are making, (see previous blogs) slicing up the plaster on the bandsaw. I thought i’d play with that.. so I started to slice up all the plasters i’d made on the bandsaw.
I soon had stacks of diced figures precariously balancing all over the place (and a rusty bandsaw!) I thought i’d amalgamate different figures, two or three at a time, pile them up to form stretched elongated figure forms.. I glued the first one up using plaster and was shocked by the strange stretched form i’d created.. During the following days I stacked and stuck figure after figure. Soon a crowd of figures populated the room (under the gaze of this torso i’d suspended from the ceiling a while back and had forgotten about), They all looked unnervingly in one direction, as though trying to work out a thing, a future, a strange place.
Every morning I entered the studio there they were querulously spying me, working me out, peering, leering looking over each others shoulders, through gaps, like a colony of Meerkat’s. Couples leaning together, mimicking each others poses, some holding hands, nervously comforting each other.
Half way through this I heard on the radio that the magnetic north pole had moved a few degrees from Alaska to Siberia.. all the navigational systems of the world had to re calibrate, this chimed perfectly with the leaning skewed figures I was making, standing as if on a tilting earth, compensating, trying to accommodate change.
I should shut up now and give you some pictures.. taken by Bill Jackson and Tim Bowden..
Here’s how the studio looked on entry every morning, greenery bursting through an open window, now impossible to shut!!
It was like a set from Midsummer nights dream.. no not midsummer murders!
I’ll slowly introduce you….
Here’s a couple of shots from guest photographer Claire Waddell!!
Ok here are some ‘Individual’s’ by Tim..
I have to say, I feel like they are friends, we’ve been through a lot together..
Johnny from the gallery loved them too, so we are going to show them in the London space next spring.. we think we’ll show all the plasters in one room, set up as in the studio and then a load of them in bronze in the next room.. It will be very interesting to be able to compare and contrast.