Sculptures in stainless steel, bronze and wood by Mike Edwards
Personal Statement on his non-representational Sculpture
Making ‘art-objects’ rather than descriptive ‘image objects’ that attempt the recreating of reality in three dimensions has been my resolve, my interest and my overriding effort.
As a young artist starting out I remember on the one hand knowing that making sculpture (art objects) as distinct from the millions of utilitarian ‘art-objects’, man has made over time was my passion but on the other hand I realized that most art objects had already been made in one way or another.
During my early years of practice, art / sculpture went through many ‘new’ phases; post 1945, post modernism, minimalism, pop art, super realism, protest, pc art etc. all relevant and vital to our time but none of which was I able to embrace completely. I have tried, am still trying to develop my own form world, that reflects some of the above philosophies, and advances both in technology and thought, but that remain within my reference framework.
My reference framework was laid down as a small boy on long walks with my grandfather in the Karoo around Cradock, visiting ‘Egg’ rock and collecting fossils and succulents with their infinite variety of form, shape and colour.
Thus the over-riding interest in and study of the landscape has continued throughout my sculptural journey. This all consuming interest in the landscape has not been for the panoramic and atmospheric view but rather in the drama of light, the precarious balance of and sometime dangerous forms and shapes found both in rock structures, carved by wind and rain, and in the plant life that struggles to survive in harsh climatic conditions with spiky tenacity.
Having identified this ‘landscape’ source, many of my sculptures (‘art-objects’) happen without direct reference to either place or object while others develop directly from found or observed objects. I draw and photograph details and collect bits and pieces wherever we find ourselves and these forms and shapes seem to arrive intuitively while a sculpture is developing in whatever material I am using at the time. The form transitions, sharp edges, pointed ends and concave/convex undulations for me hold visual clues for the spectator that relate to many aspects of our African life.
On the technical level many (perhaps most) of my sculptures are fabricated, that is made by cutting, beating, welding and grinding in the case of steel and cutting, laminating, carving, glueing and grinding in the case of wood.
Just as we find the gestural line in the graphic arts and the brush strokes in painting that build the skin of the art work, adding to suggestion in terms of content as well as direction in terms of form and shape so too do the tool and hand marks that are left after manipulating the metal, the wood or the clay of a particular sculpture. Some of these marks I leave while other parts of the surface I give a high polish to create reflections and contrasts to heighten the visuality.