Mark Tanner Sculpture Award winner 2021/22.
11 March to 22 April 2023
Private View: Friday 10 March
A solo exhibition of work by the winner of the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award 2022 is coming to Kendal this Spring.
‘Genetic Material’ presents a series of interrelated sculptures developed over the past year by Rosie Edwards (b.1981 Oxford, UK), the 19th recipient of the major UK Award.
Assembled playfully like children’s toys across Cross Lane Projects, Edwards’ brightly coloured sculptures emerge from a process of ‘physical thinking’ with found objects and re-purposed materials.
Prompted by an instinct to invert the logical, Edwards’ sculptures animate and denature the formal language of minimalism. Destabilising the rigid formality of the grid, whilst compounding qualities of hard and soft, sculpture and textile.
Geometric shapes are constructed from various lo-tech, homespun armatures: riveted steel fixing band; sprung steel gleaned from pop-up laundry baskets; and steel mesh tubing with crocheted nodes. They are squashed, folded and extruded before being fixed into shape with traditional sculpting materials. The
resulting structures become empathetic beings that retain the imprint of the body or the impact of an action. The tactility and resilience of these initially malleable structures portray a moment of transformation, as if capturing a substance changing state or a building in its first moment of collapse.
Other forms are created from the inside out: accumulations of balls stuffed inside found ‘skins’ inflated with expanding foam. These basic building methods result in forms suggestive of protein structures, molecules, or cells dividing. They scramble scale and, like molecular models, have the ability to speak of things that are simultaneously very small and very large.
Coloured twine coats the surface of several elements in an optic pattern, creating a sense of transformation occurring within. The optical surface pattern has a quiet but persistent pulse, the effect of which is slightly disturbing, alien, uncanny. Their whirring energy creates the sense there is something you have forgotten; it is not clear if their presence is malignant or benign.
Redundant domestic items including plate racks, coat hangers and laundry baskets can be found interspersed throughout the exhibition. Formed slightly off kilter they are imbued with a questionable stability, holding within them the collective anxiety of our time.
Through necessity of space in the artist’s studio, works are stacked on top of each other, moved around and constantly reconfigured. Objects at the bottom have little choice but to serve as plinths for the more transient upper layers. This constant scrambling of position allows the potential for unconscious discourse between elements. These objects, elusive beings of unclear status, eventually find their niche. Like fish in a coral reef, coupling occurs and things slowly acquire ‘settled status’.
The MTSA is one of the most significant awards for emerging UK artists working in the field of sculpture. It seeks to reward outstanding and innovative practice, with a particular interest in work that demonstrates a commitment to process, or sensitivity to material. Edwards was selected from over 240 applicants from
across the UK by a panel comprising: Eva Rothschild RA; Lewis Gilbert, associate curator at New Art Centre; Rebecca Scott, director at Cross Lane Projects and Mark Tanner Trust; and Dean Kenning, MTSA winner 2020-21.
Rosie Edwards’ sculptures come about by two dominant methods of making, which she categorises as ‘Shape Shifters’ and ‘Apparitions’. ‘Shape Shifters’ are networked structures: grids initially constructed with straws and wire, riveted steel or sprung steel. The ‘inadequacies’ of these homespun armatures give her structures unintended form: their intentioned geometries become un-done through the imprint of the body as they are constructed and handled . Edwards (b. 1981, Oxford, UK) is interested in the tactility and responsiveness of these structures and how their materiality imparts its own voice through the making. Like textiles her grids remain materially responsive, retaining a degree of handleability: they can be folded, squashed, or refashioned over and over, each manipulation leaving a slight imprint upon the final form. The ‘Shape-Shifters’ animate the formal language of minimalism and destabilise the rigid formality of the grid, compounding qualities of hard and soft, sculpture and textile.
Edwards’ ‘Apparitions’, in comparison, are sculptural forms that come into being from the inside out. Often made using ready-made membranes: balls, balloons, garment bags, lay-flat tubing, plastic shrink- wrap. These found ‘skins’ are inflated with polyurethane foam to create hitherto unfathomed beings.
Edwards sees her sculptural practice as a collaboration with found objects, pure geometries and external limiting factors. She seeks to outsource creative decision making by following the prompts held within the objects and forms she encounters – often redundant domestic items gleaned from walls or street corners which impart their own formatting or logic. Operating within this guise of extreme neutrality (quashing her own intentions) she follows their leads. In doing so Edwards challenges the power of Objective Chance to reveal it’s teaching and gives voice to the poetry of its code.
Objects and assemblages reveal themselves through fleeting moments of great intensity that resonate with her own personal experiences: flashes of indisputable synchronicity that leave an aftertaste of spiritual communion.
Rosie Edwards. Installation photography by Rebecca Larkin. All works copyright the artist.