Meet the Yoxman: A towering giant of Suffolk's past

The Yoxman stands in all his glory 

The Yoxman stands in all his glory - Credit: Laurence Edwards

A towering man of 26ft is to capture the attention of visitors to Yoxford in the coming months.  

The Yoxman by Suffolk artist Laurence Edwards is set to rise above the local landscape close to the A12 at Cockfield Hall.   

“The clients are long established patrons and are starting a big project over this area of Suffolk,” he said.  

“They wanted to create an icon for the business. A deep-rooted Suffolk kind of idea.” 

The Yoxman has taken four years of work 

The Yoxman has taken four years of work - Credit: Laurence Edwards

The Yoxman is related to his previous work, The Creek Men.  

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“This is really an extension and development of one of those figures to a colossal scale to create this big icon and attraction for this area,” he said.  

“A lightning rod for attention on the side of the A12.” 

The Yoxman will tower above Yoxford

The Yoxman will tower above Yoxford - Credit: Laurence Edwards

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The Yoxman will be a striking figure emerging from Suffolk’s past.  

“It’s an attempt to embed Suffolk and the idea of Suffolk in the landscape and create a main focal point for it,” he said.  

“All my work is figures that have been immersed in landscape.  

“They acknowledge the history of the land here. 

“This figure is kind of an ancient character from the past.  That’s emerging out of the land and is encrusted with a whole load of material that is of the landscape, he is a man that has risen.  

“He suddenly pops himself up unsure of himself and reticent as to the world that he has arrived in.” 

A supersized foundry was created to help make the Yoxman

A supersized foundry was created to help make the Yoxman - Credit: Laurence Edwards

As well as arriving from the earth The Yoxman is also constructed from material from it.  

“Everything on him is from a mile of the studio,” he said.  

The project to bring the Yoxman into existence has taken four years.  

“In 2017 we started and we are going to get it in, in November,” he said.  

“From a small maquette that was six inches high to a 90cm high model which was then converted to get to a 26ft high polystyrene man. 

“He looked like a Michelin man - it was completely layered and sedimentary himself.” 

The Yoxman has been described as an ancient figure coming up from the ground

The Yoxman has been described as an ancient figure coming up from the ground - Credit: Laurence Edwards

Buckets of plaster were then thrown on the figure along with all sorts of material.  

“Ropes, grasses and with the detritus of the studio as well as the detritus of the landscape,” he said.  

“He became this kind of encrusted man that was becoming free in the studio.” 

Then it was time to create the final bronze piece.  

The project was put together in Mr Edwards' foundry in Halesworth.  

The Yoxman will watch over Suffolk in the coming years

The Yoxman will watch over Suffolk in the coming years - Credit: Laurence Edwards

“We were lucky we had the ceiling space for it,” he said.  

“I never expected to fill it.” 

He had never made anything quite on this scale.  

“Then we had to boot up the foundry to make it of a scale that it could handle casting something of this scale,” he said.  

“Usually, a sculptor would hand this over to another foundry. 

“But we decided to set up a foundry around him, we installed cranes and all sorts of things.” 

The full sculpture was created in 52 separate pieces. 

“It became like an Elmer the elephant, it was a massive patchwork man,” he said.  

“We cast them all in bronze and they were all around the foundry. 

“Slowly he coalesced over a two-year period.” 

Mr Edwards said it was a slightly worrying time hoping that all the pieces would come together.  

“It was way out of anything I have experienced before,” he said.  

“Just to watch this character emerge after two or three years of having lost him. 

“We had a climax a month ago when the cranes lifted what was the top of him onto the bottom. 

“Suddenly he arrived in this industrial estate in Halesworth.  

“The birth of a whole new man. 

“He’s really powerful with a story to tell. He can be a lot of things to a lot of people.” 

The final piece will be put into place in November with a celebration event set to be held next spring.  

Mr Edwards is looking forward to seeing the Yoxman finally get put into place. 

“It’s going to be fascinating to watch him grow,” he said.  

“Through the landscape and the life that he has ahead of him.” 

Yoxford parish chairman Russell Pearce said he was looking forward to seeing the statue in place. He said: "Pictures don't do him justice. I don't think there's anything like it in Suffolk. It's awe-inspiring."

You can follow the Yoxman's progress @laurenceedwards.bronze on Instagram

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