Laurence Edwards

Yoxman

In November 2021, sculptor Laurence Edwards completed and installed a 26ft bronze sculpture named Yoxman which stands next to the A12 in Suffolk. For a bronze male sculpture 26 feet tall, Laurence Edwards’ Yoxman (the Suffolk Colossus) is a reluctant landmark. Notably unheroic, his is a wounded body clustered and cut with growths, burrs and splinters.

Unlike other monumental sculptures old and new, the artist conceived him not to to draw attention to himself, but to his context. And the context, globally, has been an accelerated sequence of watersheds that have recently transformed discourses around white masculinity and its cultural conspicuousness, a growing acknowledgement of the implications of man-made climate change, and a pandemic that has confronted us with absolute frailty and mortality more starkly than at any other period in living memory.

Edwards feels the final work has absorbed and integrated the moment of its making into its fabric. A keen walker, he speaks passionately about the ancient reverberations of the Suffolk landscape which has been his home for most of his life, with its constant reminders of human activity spanning back to prehistoric times. There, coastal erosion reveals fragments and relics: mammoth bones, shells, and ancient shards of wood emerge from cliffs freshly carved out by the encroaching sea.

But everywhere you go, you will find entropy, in many cases hastened by the effects of human activity; and the very notion of timelessness is called into question. Edwards made the Yoxman to reflect this process. Describing the sculpture as like a revenant, ‘a visitor from the past that’s come back, musing on an unrecognisable environment and contemplating its future’, it simultaneously epitomizes and bears witness to the ravages of our time.

Edwards invokes the axis mundi, the meeting point of the earth and the heavens. Mountains and trees, as well as man-made structures such as pagodas, steeples, minarets, totem poles and maypoles, have all been cited as examples of axis mundi. The artist sees this monumental figure as a focal point in the landscape, tapping and drawing out meaning wherever it lands.

Bronze, with its history spanning millennia and across cultures, has predominantly been a material of commemoration and celebration. Yoxman is also a proposition for both, and for what it means to make a monument, at this moment in time.

Biography | Media | Exhibitions | Artworks

Laurence Edwards

[ 1967
- Present ]
One of the few sculptors who casts his own work, Laurence Edwards is fascinated by human anatomy and the metamorphosis of form and matter that governs the lost-wax process.

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