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From Humble Beginnings

This autumn why not take a trip to the woodlands at Watts Gallery to discover an inspiring clay sculpture by emerging artist Steven Edwards. Called From Humble Beginnings, the installation stretches to around 30 feet, rising from the floor to a peak at the centre. Steven extracted the clay from the Weald, moulded the tiles using a mixture of raw and fired clay to create a vertical wall of mathematical bricks and tiles using designs seen in many traditional Surrey buildings.

Steven’s work explores the materiality of clay, drawing from the use of clay extraction for building materials from the seams of clay that stretch for miles across the Surrey Hills. Clay has been dug for making bricks, tiles and pottery in many parts of the region – significantly in Compton, where it was the starting point for Mary Watts’ pioneering community arts project culminating in Watts Chapel and leading to the creation of the Compton Potters’ Arts Guild that provided employment in the village for over 50 years

Steven comments: ““From Humble Beginnings reveals the sometimes hidden narrative inherent in the material of the landscape. Clay has been dug for making bricks, tiles and pottery in many parts of Surrey, the signature characteristics of the material have created a distinct heritage and landscape dating back as far as history. Using this fundamental material and adapting basic making methods I have created a complex layered structure that I hope will connect the viewer with the materials historical formation, extraction and innovation of use.”

The project forms part of ‘Surrey Unearthed’ a programme of ten linked projects exploring the natural materials beneath our feet through sculpture, installation, film, and writing. Surrey Unearthed celebrates the importance of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with its rich history of local industry, farming and culture and connecting people with their local landscapes.

Ali Clarke, Programme Manager, Surrey Hills Arts, says:
“Surrey Unearthed brings together artists with a genuine passion and curiosity in our surrounding landscape. This programme sees them explore the natural materials and their uses over time in such depth to create unique artworks engaging with communities throughout.”

“It is great to see Steven as an emerging artist have the opportunity to showcase his work in the magical woodlands surrounding Watts Gallery supporting their ethos in developing creative talent.”
Steven will be running a clay workshop on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September from 11am – 4pm at Watts Gallery as part of their Make Festival. Join Steven to construct an exterior wall of public art inspired by the shapes and patterns used in traditional Surrey architecture.

The workshop is Free with admission. Students £5.75. Pre-book online at www.wattsgallery.org.uk.

Visit www.surreyunearthed.org for more information

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