Crypt Gallery, Norwich School, Cathedral Close, Norwich - look for the blue door in front of the cathedral
Recumbence will feature work by the artist Laurence Edwards based on the lying figure from his studio practice over the last ten years to present. The gallery’s vaulted subterranean world seems a fitting venue.
“It occurred to me a while ago, that my first encounters with the sculpted figure were the stone bodies laying on tombs in the churches around my childhood home in Suffolk. Add to this the figures excavated in the sandy fields in the same area and my connection to the recumbent body can perhaps be understood.
The impulse to start working with the lying form was also driven by an interest in images of the entombed christ. I was keen to explore one painting in particular Mategna's 'Entombment'. There is a curious perspective in the painting. Were the small feet and large chest an anomaly, or was there a sense to it?
I was used to creating a vertical equivalent of the body, it made sense to move around it and impress upon it my thinking. This changed when I decided to explore the horizontal form, the figure presented at waist height, offered itself differently, no longer was I negotiating an equal, the body was somehow passive and I felt more like a carer than a sculptor. I was surprised by a type of empathy I had not felt before.
Every day I would wrap and unwrap the body with more care. I would unconsciously go to the wrist as if to take a pulse, or hold the hand and rest a palm on the forehead much as a doctor would to a patient. So involving was it that I held onto the experience for far too long, not wanting this presence to leave my studio, the clay began to dry at the extremities, his ankles would crack, I tied string around them much like a tourniquet, I laid damp cloths on him like lint, bandaging and dressings.
He would look down the length of his body peering at my activities, I was glad I raised his head, to have him look sky ward would have altered the experience, this was a subconscious act resulting in a a unique intimacy.
I lay the first bronze of him far out on the mudflats of Butley Creek, there he is exposed, I cannot reach him an unnerving contrast to the intimacy of his making. He is a kind of offering to the marsh, a place that had been a muse for most of my life, one I was leaving to build a new life. There he has lain for seven years slowly sinking under the gentle tides, a perch for birdlife, he will soon be gone joining a myriad of other remnants and a host of Saxon bodies laying close by on the bank.
It is appropriate to have him in this crypt. I'm interested to see how the freighted atmosphere in the room affects the psychology of this figure, adding a layer to his story and the other works that have sprung from him, being shown alongside”
Laurence Edwards — June 2023
Regular studio blog: https://laurenceedwards.wordpress.com
Laurence Edwards exhibition in the Crypt Gallery at Norwich School, Cathedral Close, Norwich