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Dramatic work by bronze sculptor Laurence Edwards captured by Suffolk film-maker

PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 November 2019

Laurence Edwards  Photo: Bill Jackson

Laurence Edwards Photo: Bill Jackson

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The creation of bronze sculpture, Man of Stones, has been captured in a new immersive film-experience by photographer Bill Jackson. The work is being screened at this weekend's Flipside festival

The creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill JacksonThe creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill Jackson

For the last three years photographer Bill Jackson has been photographing Suffolk sculptor Laurence Edwards creating the bronze sculpture, Man of Stones, the first commissioned sculpture for the new Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park at UEA in Norwich.

The sessions have taken place at Edwards' studio in Saxmundham, his foundry in Halesworth and on location. In January 2019 Jackson came to the conclusion, after conversations with Edwards, that Man of Stones was such an important piece, that a film should be made of its creation. Work began in early January and Jackson had to develop and explore a way of working without interfering with Edwards while he began working in clay.

Jackson's beginnings as a street photographer back in the 1980's honed his skills in anticipating what maybe about to happen and these skills proved very useful in shooting Man of Stones.

The creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill JacksonThe creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill Jackson

Over a period of nine months from January to September 2019, Bill Jackson documented its progress from clay to wax to bronze and capturing the journey of two men. Using film and still photography, the result is a personal and intimate record of its making.

By working alone, Jackson was able to work unobstrusively and close up while Edwards and his team realised this eight foot figure cast into bronze

"None of the scenes were set up for the camera, I had to react and anticipate to what was happening around me," said Bill. "You learn how to see with one eye through the viewfinder and the other eye scans the space you are working in. This was very important because I, not only, had to be aware of myself, but also Laurence moving around. I was also surrounded by other large scale sculptures at various stages of production. I called it 'Dancing with Laurence'. I had to move when he moved."

Shot in black and white with a hand held camera Jackson manages to capture, as one observer noted, a stunning piece of visual poetry with a unique soundscape created from the sounds of the foundry.

The film is not a recipe for lost wax bronze casting and was approached in the same way that Jackson creates his other works, as a piece of "poetry". Jackson's award-winning films are noted for the simple but complex structures of his soundscapes which he designs and produces, often with sampled sounds from his location field recordings.

He frequently works with poets whose voices act as the narrative, often a counterpoint to the visuals. From the beginning, Jackson wanted the Edwards interview to work in the same way with the visuals. The result is not your usual documentary and he wants people to experience a journey through image, music and text. The question is whose journey is it?

The creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill JacksonThe creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill Jackson

Now based in Suffolk, Jackson is an international award winning photographer and film maker. Harnessing natural elements, such as the sea and wind, he maps the Suffolk landscape at night with time based film and photography.

Laurence Edwards is based in Halesworth, having had studios at Butley for many years, and his work derives from the male form, often fusing elements of landscape, and a deep understanding of the ancient techniques of lost wax bronze casting, with which he has been working for 30 years. As with the 'Man of Stones' these figures work at their best when reflecting and speaking of the places they find themselves inhabiting.

The sculpture has now been installed on the sculpture park at the Sainsbury centre and is getting an incredible public response. The small bronze study for it will also be on display in the museum itself for the month of December.

The creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill JacksonThe creation of Man of Stones Photo: Bill Jackson

The film was premiered at Messums in Wiltshire in October at the end of an exhibition by Edwards. It will now be screened at this years Flipside Festival at Henham Barns in Suffolk on Saturday November 16 as part of the festival.

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