Art by 2000 cuts

I had the privilage of contributing to ‘Here’ the inaugural show at the ‘Art Station’, a new arts space for Suffolk, based at the old telephone exchange in Saxmundham

The curators gave me a room with a view. I gave myself 2000 feet of steel, an angle grinder and a mig welder. I locked the door..made a racket ,nearly burnt the place down had a ball for a week… here’s what went down!

I repurposed a wax bust which was hanging in my studio, and used an old drawing as reference..

Vertical lines were my way in .. so with a jar of ink, a brush and a step ladder I created the backdrop.

I then set too cutting steel and welding..
I started to factor in the opening door, the walls .. burning wallpaper as I went..
Loved that!
Welded the windows open, and even effected a steel drawn curtain… (impossible to photograph against the light of the window)
It’s a steel drawing .
You can see a film of it on my new instagram site.. @laurenceedwards.bronze

Amidst many other inspirational moments!

As if that wasn’t enough, we managed to finish the second 8ft Walking Man at the foundry.. the second of five, he’s going to the EA festival at Hedingham Castle at the end of July.

Meanwhile the ‘Yoxman’ The Colossus for Suffolk is getting there.. his torso is coming together.

Thats all folks… i’ll leave you with Freddy finishing a ‘Man of Stones’ which is now on show at the ‘Grange’ festival in Hampshire… remember the instagram page… its a nice compliment to this … @laurenceedwards.bronze

Stay safe!

A Norman Soldier, Kubrick in Suffolk, Big Walking man and a mystery perhaps!!


I have re imagined the lying man, the one I placed in the Butley mudflats..

The second cast of the edition has returned from his travels and now sits atop a billiard table in a place called Potton Hall, nr Westelton, Suffolk… it’s part of the ‘Waveney Valley Sculpture trail’ which opened this weekend. It is open daily until June 27th.

It reminds me of a Stanley Kubrick film set, exposed and isolated. The splendid billiard light reveals a vulnerability. It’s good to be able to get up close, to see the surface detail and weathering I’d not seen for 5 years or more.

This is how close you get to him usually!

We boxed in the table , creating a platform far bigger than i’d normally make, which is rather dramatic.. The cues and score board are still on the wall, I measured up for a pot, leaving blue chalk marks on him, interesting.. give it a go if you’re there, i’ll count them up at the end…It’s well worth a visit.

‘THE HOMECOMING’

I’ve made a Norman Soldier!

Well I was asked to respond to the Norman history of Ebbsfleet, it was originally called Sweynes Camp and is purported to have been a Norman settlement.

The Sculpture’s called ‘Homecoming’ and is about a man who has been away from home, feeling he has been changed by stressful situations. He is returning home to a family and village that may also have changed. I’ve tried to make him tentative.

I loved developing this character, embellishing him, creating acoutrements, (a Norman word I’d wager!) using my old work overalls, aprons etc…

He is sationed in the 12th century courtyard behind Messums Wiltshire, appropriate if not 150 yrs out..

I read Paul Kingsnorths ‘The Wake’ trilogy as a part of the research. Set in 1067 in the Fens and written in what the author calls ‘Shadow tongue ‘ a simplified old English which serves to evoke perfectly the life of ‘Buccmaster of Holland’, whose family and life have been destroyed in the savage merciless invasion. The story follows his efforts to raise a partisan gang in the forests, plotting and picking off Norman soldiers as they impose impossible hardship on those Britons left alive.

Aswell as Kasuo Ishiguro’s ‘The Buried Giant’, also set in ancient Briton / Saxon England.. wonderful source material.

The sculpture will leave the courtyard at Tisbury for his new home in Ebbsfleet Kent, immediatly after the talk. So if you are tempted to go and see him, i’m afraid you’ll have to go in the next few days. Although Ebbsfleet by all accounts is very nice!

New Big Bronze:

The First 8ft Walking Man is finished!

I’ve been privately commissioned by a wonderful patron to realise a long held dream, to create a gang of 5, 8ft Walking Men.

We installed the first one this month, said patron wishes his privacy to be respected so there are no shots of him in situ, I do have a rather beautiful set of studio photographs though.

It will take me two years to complete the set, its rather a daunting undertaking..once the first set has been installed i’ll be casting a second to exhibit. The unveiling of the series will be at Messums Wiltshire next September, before they go on a museum tour of Australia with a show of other new large works in 2023.

The second one is being finished as we speak, you’ll have to wait untll next months blog to see him!!

BREAKING NEWS

The belly of the giant is being assembled, Eddy looks as though he’s enjoying himself! Hopefully the top half will be finished by the end of July and a crane will lift it onto the legs, in an exciting and rather fitting finale to a four year epic journey, oddyssey, slog…

BREAK OUT!

Eva, Tom and Nhung, are detained in order to finish wax sticks for a very large ‘Loaded ‘ sculpture being cast, they are to be fixed to this torso .. which has a body and legs too.. Louis stands guard.

(I know this is hammy apologies )

Eva Terzoni is leaving us after years of wonderful and devoted service, she will be pursueing a sculptural career in her home town of Florence.. Putting to good use the skills she has mastered with us..

Quite why she’d leave the wonderful life I’ve created for her at the Fire Station is beyond me..

Good luck Eva and thankyou, we’ll miss your relentless laughter.

Oh and by the way..

I’ve just started Instagram.. a great compliment to the blog..

check out : Laurenceedwards.bronze

Lx

12 giant steps to happiness! and a new ‘Carrier’

OK…Here’s a brief one, well, by my standards..

I’ve got two things to show you.. first off, we passed an amazing landmark this week.

We managed to get a 4 tonne pair of legs out of the studio using four pallet trucks and a Land Rover.. here’s what happened!

First off, after much bracing of feet and waiting we finally lifted the legs in the foundry!

Tom skilfully steered them past workbenches and staircases…

Sim you’ll notice was often caught striking a pose !

Saddled up and ready to roll, Freddy’s Land Rover was disconcerting..

Sim, finally galvanised!
Not sure if Rowan was enjoying himself or petrified.
Finally reached base camp and lowered the beast. Sim you’ll noticed has disappeared!

Awesome, even if I do say so myself.

We now start constructing the torso.. and in a few months will bring that out into the open, and with a crane, lower it on to the legs.. that will be an amazing day!

Meanwhile I’ve been working on a new commission for a large scale version of a sculpture called the ‘Carrier’

The figure is seven foot tall, you can see us working in the background, for scale.. not to be confused with the other two sculptures..easy mistake.. both 8ft ..not us, them!

proper mouldmaking challenge this.

Really excited to see this in bronze.. its a casting odyssey..stay tuned..

Told you it was short..

Damn it I wanted to show you these renderings.. which I made for the client.

Please come back again, sign up and follow, if you can work out how…

Check out Messums Website for more info..https://messumslondon.com/artists/laurence-edwards/

Oh I almost forgot..

The ‘Thousand Tides’ sculpture has started to sink, its rather lovely, I reckon it will go quite fast now its started its journey. See it while you can.. Butley Creek, just up from the mill.

And Kim Wilkie the fantastic landscape designer who is doing a talk at Messums Wiltshire on the 28th of April, which I shall certainly be attending.. and indeed whose landscape the giant figure will eventually be placed in, took these wonderful photographs of my ‘Creek Men’ at Hevenigham Hall, another of his wonderful settings..

That really is it.. wasn’t that short in the end was it..

New London Exhibiton opening next week!!

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…

‘Perigean Pull’.

Side by Side‘.

Come what may’.
Hold Sway’.
H’old sway’ (detail)
Come what may’ (Detail)

Sensor’.
Strange songs’ (Original plasters)

Untitled and as yet uncast!

Fathom and Brace’.
Perigean pull’ (Detail)

Looking forward to seeing you there, tell all your friends!!!

The Tribute to Miners in Doncaster.

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..

Wow!!

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….

XX

Sculpture, Quarries and Soldiers – December 2020.

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..

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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..

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Thanks for hanging in there.

For those of you that it means anything to, have a great Christmas.. see you in January…

Lx

Lockdown Work- October 2020

Hi.. !!

Well this is my opportunity to show the world what I made during Lockdown. I managed after a faultering 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 inadvertantly 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 querelously 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 accomodate 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 alot 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.

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Other things happened in the studio too, it was a creative time.. I’m not going to bore you with loads of intellectual explanations.. you can do all that.. I’ll just show you some images!

Love the idea of tiling a room and camouflaging life size figures.

I collected these ancient Limpet shells out of eroding cliffs, had to use them!

This was my first covid sculpture, I had it wofting past walking men, like a willo-the-wisp. I imagine it massive so you can walk under it.
It came from this guy, I used all the offcuts under the band saw..

And this guy from all the offcuts I found behind a shelf!

They’ve just been cast .. looking great.

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Thought i’d take on the reclining figure.. fallen warriors perhaps..?

Modelling a series of walking men, all to be scaled up to 8 ft high, a fantastic commission, a small selection in great light.

So you can leave me now, talking to my new friends.. don’t worry i’ll be fine..

Take good care of yourelf.. we got a long way to go…

XX

Back from Covid-lots of Eds!!

Hi there.. welcome back.. the keen eyed, the mad and the enthusiastic amongst you, will have noticed my absence on the interweb. I Decided not to bore you with my ‘fantastic’ Lockdown exploits and concentrate on having them..

You won’t see them in this post either..no, instead you will be exposed to what was happening just as it all started and where we’ve got to since we opened up again at beginning of June…. the actual stuff I made during lockdown will be saved for you in the next post!!! Its very exciting I can tell you.

So we’ll start with the Biggest thing! The Colossus is coming together in bronze, after a myriad of structural difficulties, complicated welding exams and new cranes installations, we’ve finally got to the fun bit..Well Tom has..

Here he is …

Welding the feet together..

Here’s Tom showing new ‘Expert guy’ Eddy Triplow the ropes!

Eddy is getting the hang of it.. He’s a real nice guy ‘Nice guy Eddy’

Tom’s passed loads of difficult welding exams to do this bit.. he can now make an oil rig in the north sea… This is the start of the stainless steel framework going inside the feet and legs.

Solid as a rock….

You may be a fresh visitor to my blog. This is what the Yox-Man (Colossus) is going to look like.. you can see how far we’ve got to go!! Hope to be finished in the new year.

can you see me!

I thought i’d show you the destruction of this plaster beast, it actually influenced my covid work… the stuff i’m not showing you!

The other ED, (second of three featured tonight) hacked off the plaster outer skin to reveal the polystyrene core..stuff we hadn’t seen for two years.

Everything at this scale is an engineering problem!!

I’ve decided to leave the head hanging…

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Next Chapter.. yes they’ll be a couple more!

Third edition of the ‘Man Of Stones’.

Just a couple of ‘finishing’ shots to show, then him on a trailor and the Suffolk countryside..

Here he is, by the scruff..Thats Fred finishing him.

The Arty shot for this post..

The eagerly awaited trailer shot.. being delivered to a secret location..

Here we are overtaking him..

Here’s the traffic jam we caused..

And for those that don’t know the sculpture.. Here’s the posh photograph of him..He’s a favourite, the first cast is permanantly sited in the Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park (UEA) Norwich.

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Next Chapter!

Walking Man.. 8 foot tall.

Here’s ED’s mould of him under construction..

Here’s wonderful happy Nhung touching up the wax head..

Two hands ..he is big..

Nhung keeping it togerher!

It’s horrible when months of work are reduced to 5 photographs.

I love these waxes, though the hot weather meant I found him on the floor, the morning the client came to view him…

I’m very fortunate to have been commissioned to make five walking men, 8 ft tall, this is really too exciting.. I’m still coming to terms with it.. this is how I’d like them to work together.. I’ll explain more as the project developes.

In the meantime here are some lovely moody daylight studio shots of the plaster studies about 18 inches high, taken by my old friend Tim Bowden..

I’m working with waxes of them too..in different schemes..

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So what have we learnt?

  • 8 foot is my new favourite size.. works in the landscape brilliantly, and i’ve got about 6 more of that size to make over the next two years..
  • There are two Eds in the studio, well actually I’ve been called Ed, Eddy, Steady even Teddy before so that makes three and at a push we could let Fred in the gang thats four!.

Please sign up, it helps on dark winter nights, and look out for the much awaited Covid blog coming in a few weeks..

Thankyou for hanging on..

love to you ..LXX

Portrait expedition to ‘Saami-land’

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OK, This follows on from the Doncaster miners post and project..

I have modelled and cast forty portaits of Miners for a large public art project in Doncaster, England.

Background to this Trip.

The realisation that I could do a portrait in two hours and interview someone at the same time, was a revelation to me, and did not go unnoticed by others.

Amongst them was Piers Vitebsky, Professor in Anthroplogy at Cambridge University who thought, like me, that this technique, might offer a novel way of recording the lives and experiences of peoples from around the world.

He suggested I take a trip to the Arctic circle with a group of Indigenous peoples and Anthroplogists.

And so it came to pass.

I have to say at this point the enjoyment of this posting will be greatly enhanced by a read through of my ‘Saami Diary’.. A cup of tea or a coffee, for those of a nervous disposition, should now be prepared and a comfortable seat found.. it will take the length of time it takes drink this beveridge to read.  After this, you will know in detail how to take a Bow-Head Whale from a Walrus hide kayak and feed your village.  You will know what Musk ox tastes like and indeed what is like to snuzzle up to a drunken reindeer herder in a bunk made for one.

Here it is .. a finely honed and crafted text,

Laurence Sami diary EDITED

Voila!  Now we can begin…

 

We shall proceed with wonderful images, and brief captions.

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This is the map of the Arctic circle that greeted us on the wall at the Artikum, A Polar research academy in Roveniemmi (Father Christmas’s hometown in Lapland)

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Here we met our companions for the week.. a host of Indigenous people from the Arctic Circle. Whale Hunters from the Bering Straits, Polar Bear and Fisher people from Northern Greenland. Nenets, Khanty, Eveny, and Sakha join Inuit from Alaska, Kaslaallisut, Nanavut, Nuuk and other Greenland territories.

Shari Fox an Anthroplogist from Clyde River near Baffin Island, has organised this expedition in order that indeginous peoples can share and compare lives and experiences and discuss the best ways to research and promote the issues that concern them.

 

 

 

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But first you must witness Piers and I indulging in a customary Champagne Breakfast at the airport…Piers had set this trip up but was to leave us after the first day..here I am trying to get my head round that…

 

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And meet Bill Jackson, (Monarch of the Tundra) who will be photographing and filming the sessions.. indeed it is his imagery you will be enjoying in this blog.

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I was nervous it’s true.. to go into the middle of the Tundra with a load of people unnannounced, in cold and cramped conditions was not ideal. This was a scientific trip not an artisitic one, I was more or less a gate crasher.

So I decided to do a couple of portraits in the guest house before we left, at least then i’d have something..

 

First up was Tolya. An ebulliant showman. A Reindeer Herder from Sebyan in Siberia, who met Piers forty years ago, becoming his collaborator and an anthroplogist in his own right, indeed the only one with a Reindeer Heart inserted by a 106 year old Shaman!..

 

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I had to tell him to keep still in the end. he wasn’t too happy about that…I got a good head.. which would prove valuable later on….

 

Next was Rosa.. she was from a Nenet a Nomadic Herding community, and spoke of how the contents of the tents remained exact and in place, in contrast to the ever changing landscape outside..

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She is now an Anthropologist too, working in Holland, on the Folk stories and oral histories of her people.

 

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I think she was a little uncomfortable with the idea of being observed, she became elusive, which was fascinating, becoming very difficult sculpt!

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The next morning we set off for the hut up north. Near to the Arctic circle.

The roads were straight and as the tree’s got shorter the hats got bigger.

 

 

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No snow..

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Last stop for provisions and a meal

 

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We switched to All Terrain vehicles and bumped accross the Tundra for an afternoon..

 

 

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We rested on what seemed like the roof of the world.

 

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As the shadows were lengthening the hut came into view..

 

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It was obvious we weren’t all going to fit in, so some elected for the tent, a fun night at -6 degrees..

 

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The evening saw us getting to know each other, in candle light..Here I sit with George Noongwook, from St Lawrence island Alaska,  and Vassilly from Nayba, the tiny village I had visited on my trip last year to North East Siberia.

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Georges Whale hunting stories were captivating!!  or maybe we were hungry for his bread…

 

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The Leader of the Saami Herders, and our host.

I really didn’t know how I was going to create a time and find a space to do my work, The people here were perplexed as to why I an ‘artist’ was here at all, I wasn’t a scientist and apparenty not indigenous.. I was concerned..

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We made for our bunks my nose scraping the ceiling ,we sweated in bags as the wood burning stoves raged on.

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Early morning we rose to coffee and Reindeer meat.

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I look for models.. scraping up courage…though not enough to approach these two..

 

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I had thought about the enigmatic ‘George’ as I slept, and what an amazing story he would have to tell.. I was very excited and waited for a moment to approach..

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It was outside that I walked upto him and said ‘I’m a sculptor’  confused he returned my gaze, after a longwinded  explanation he conceded, sacrificing the talking and a trip to the border!

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What a lovely guy..

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Fascinating descriptions of life in the most fertile sea’s in the world.

 

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He pointed to the back of his wrist as he described the soft spot at the base of a Bowhead’s skull.  You need to know these things!

Tolya’s head was stationed on the table for the duration of the stay, much to the amusement of the Herders from Naybar, who passed him around laughing. I caught people looking and touching, they may be beginning to understand what I was trying to do…or as those from Yamal worried, felt I might be stealing their souls, this was disturbing, issues I never imagined were raising their heads (that wasn’t an intended pun)

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He kind of approved of his likeness…

 

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We broke for food and more discussion. As I plucked up the courage to approach my next model..

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I spied Heikki laughing he seemed to be the centre of attention, so I asked.. he agreed, and came to sit down at the only table in the hut,, a much sort after table …which I was hogging!

 

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Heikki proved quite a resistant model, I had asked Natasha an ex student of Piers  to translate, it was difficult finding converstaion and establishing eye contact when language was not shared.

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His friends were mildly amused…

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At one point he walked off, not wanting to answer questions,, I looked around rather awkwardly for 10 minutes whilst listening to him laughing and joking outside, eventually he came back with more of his favourite beer..

 

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The session ended early, though i feel I got a good likeness….

 

He was much happier outside with the others, practising  lassoeing techniques.. here he is on the left.

 

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That night we entertained each other, Here George plays his seal hide drum and sings Inuit songs..some funny!

 

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Next morning I spy Agrafena.. I fine strong woman from East of the Urals, a proud Khanty activist. Their lands stretch upto the Yamal penisula on the Arctic. I reckon I have a chance..

 

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A warm hearted wise person, her people herded reindeer in the forests, eating leaves and twigs from the lower branches. Their lands along the giant river Ob are now owned by Oil companies, It is they she is in constant conflict with, they even buy the roads so the  Khanty cannot get to their land.

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I was pleased at the end, Agrafena spotted her grandmothers nose, I was getting into character. I was concerned as Rosa told me that all I wanted was ‘Siberian cheekbones’  considering the context and the sensitivities of the people in the room I certainly didn’t want to reinfoce stereotypes!

 

Agrafenas ears pricked up as a commotion started outside.

 

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The Saami had returned with Tokuu our Greenlander fisher woman with a haul of fish liberated from nets they’d set in the lake the previous day. Kilo’s of fish were brought to shore.

 

The Sami have special rights to fish and hunt in the Tundra, there are particular sensitivities in the Saami community at the moment as the as Saami politicians and the Finnish government argue about who is really considered indigenous. With indigenous status come important fishing and herding rights.

 

Infact some of the Sami thought we might be working for the government, this would explain Heikki’s reluctance to talk..

 

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Large Pike, Trout and other fish were seized upon enthusiastically.

 

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Agrafena waits for her Pike, she will take it away and skin it in a second, like tights being pulled off a leg. In a pot within minutes bubbling and boiling away.

 

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Tokku de-scales and fillets fish at lightning speed.

 

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Sergei and his wife fish for half of their year, whilst the Reindeer graze off season, they deftly fillet Trout, fresh Roe dribbles down our chins.

 

We feast , there is no chance of finding models now as people relax.

 

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I leave my waxes around the Hut,

 

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A piece of my ‘everyday’ in a remote hut full of unsuspecting folk.

 

A strange alliance..

 

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The next day we pack up

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Leave the hut…

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and bump back across the Tundra.

 

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We return  to Rovaniemmi the next day , and witihn a day I am back in the uk.

 

We are now moulding the heads at the Foundry, and they will be added to the archive i’m slowly building . Bill will edit the film interviews.

 

Each sitter will be sent a plaster head , it will turn up unexpectedly at their door, they will hopefully be pleasantly surprised, and remember the incredible week we spent in the Hut in the Tundra..

 

Thankyou to everyone who  put up and looked after us.. their generosity and kindness was humbling.

 

Shame you didn’t read that diary!

 

Until next time.. Thankyou Piers!

 

Adieu..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portraits of Miners: The Exhibition!

APOLOGY!

This blog was written in January.. I’ve sat back for a month and a half happy in the knowledge that wonderful news of the miners exhibition has been disseminating accross cyberspace..I didn’t press the publish button….

Alas.. woe is me.. you’ll now get two postings in rapid succession.. both interestingly enough related.. the next is about my portrait expedition in Samiland!!

Enjoy this it’s a great one ……and  hold onto your seats for the fascinating one thats round the corner….blimey I wish I was you …

 

 

We reached an important stage in the Doncaster Mining project. For those of you who aren’t aware, I was asked to create a piece of public art to celebrate the history of mining in Doncaster, this was back in 2017. The short introduction in this link will outline the plan and ambition of the project… ..miners exhibit intro

Messums – London are hosted an Exhibition of over 40 portraits of miners created in the last two years.. The response so far has been profound, much to my surprise!

Each head has a two hour film attached which will feature in the final scheme, adding an important social dimension to the sculpture.  I am busy editing these films at the moment, they will be uploaded to Doncaster councils website throughout the first half of this year, together with general information about progress. (I’ll post the web address when its created)

This post provides a visual journey through the project, ending with the glossy Catalogue containing a piece of writing by my favourite writer Robert Macfarlane..enjoy the ride..

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The Consultations.. and the sittings..   After exhaustive consultations, I decided the only way to get to know the communities was to work literally face to face. So I embarked on an extensive period of portraiture, turning up at Doncaster every month  with modelling wax over a two year period, making 6 portraits a visit.. spending two hours observing and talking to the subjects knee to knee.. It was a fascinating and enlightening experience.

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I came  away with buckets of heads and stories..

 

I ended up with over 40,  all now sitting on shelves in the studio. I am surprised that I know all their names and can remember and tell stories about each one. I must have been in  hyper receptive mode!

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The casting marathon that ensued illustrated how wonderful my team are…

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We are going to show them as a collection in Messums, Cork Street, from the 15th of January to the 15th of February. Together with a short film by Bill Jackson and the proposals for the final scheme which involves two giant 20 tonne blocks of York Stone and a 6 ft bronze miner, All explained in the introduction and Macfarlanes writing.  (so i’ll spare you another description)

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Though having said that I have to say that the miner i’m making is a ‘Listening Miner’, the following slides chronicle his journey so far.

 

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The initial idea was to set the heads in niches  in a giant the block of stone, like this..

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The Mayor was keen that a miner should be depicted, so the idea evolved into a miner listening to the voices between two blocks.

 

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It was very hard to find an english quarry that could supply  stone at this scale, let alone a local stone.. luckily we met Duncan Reynolds, who researched on our behalf and found Johnsons Wellfield in Huddersfield, who were prepared to take the job on..

Here we are choosing the York stone, it’s a beautiful yellow, (you’ll have to imagine it) this quarry has paved areas of london, which is where the term ‘the streets are paved with gold’ comes from…

 

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All the black and white images are by Bill Jackson.

 

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I modified the idea after the visit, this is where its at ..at the moment..

 

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So here’s the PDF of th catalogue.. containing the essays and lovely images by Doug Atfield, Bill Jackson and Danny Heaton..

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Finally, this is Bill Rose.  Originally from Jamaica, he was part of the ‘Windrush’ generation… BBC Sheffield are making a documentary about this project,  focusing on Bill’s story, it will be aired in the spring.

Bill Rose, Markham Main, 'Winder'

 

 

 

 

 

cheers L