From Humble Beginnings
From Humble Beginnings
By Steven Edwards
Part of the Surrey Unearthed programme, From humble beginnings explored the materiality of clay resulting in a temporary installation in the Watts Gallery woodland. Steven Edwards researched the use of clay extraction for building materials from the seams of clay that stretch for miles across the Surrey Hills. Using a mixture of raw and fired clay, his work evolved over time, exposing the viewer to the different stages of using the material, observing insights and interpretations of the making process.
The clay seam installation rose from the ground to a peak at the centre symbolising drawing clay from the earth and using it to construct. The narrative sections of the piece began with the unearthing of clay and its changing states when exposed to ‘weathering’ through moisture hydration and dehydration. The clay is then drawn from the ground and manipulated to a vertical wall of mathematical bricks and tiles that interprets the influential Surrey vernacular building style – an important language of place, that has developed over time to accommodate the values, economies and cultures that produced them. The final section recedes back to ground level. The seam becomes fragmented, referencing deterioration and documenting a history of the changing landscape.
Using a mixture of raw and fired locally-sourced Weald clay, the work is evolved over time, exposing the viewer to the different stages of using the material, observing insights and interpretations of the making process. It also demonstrated the simple construction capabilities of familiar geometric units formed by simple moulds.
With thanks for additional support from:
Steven’s work investigates the language of making through the materiality and physicality of clay. Fascinated by process-led making, he uses simple tools and traditional techniques to explore unanticipated outcomes and revealing properties when clay is placed under tension. By manipulating the clay’s limits, he attempts to create objects that reference a balance between handmade and mechanised mark making. This is achieved by applying specific steps to a making process.
His aim is to share the material/maker relationship with the viewer by creating pieces that display a common theme of construction, drawing attention to the implied movement recorded by the clay through handling it over a period of time.