After party at The Birdcage, 80 Columbia Road, London, E2 7QB, from 21.00.


Click here for images of ...Picture Books of the Pyramids and her Postcards of Billy the Kid... the Sean Edwards show



An interview between Sean Edwards & Ryan Gander, 27th March, 2007

RG: It’s recording. When were you last in the studio?
SE: Yesterday. I managed to spend about 10 hours in there, quite an intense day of working. On a full day when there are no visits to Cardiff to get materials I try to make sure that everything is in place for a 10-hour day.
RG: Is your studio at home?
SE: Yes. It’s in the house so travel’s quite easy.
RG: And where’s the house? How far is it from Cardiff?
SE: Abergavenny. 45 minutes in the car.
RG: So you’re going to do a show at Associates in a month. Have you made anything?
SE: I have. I’ve made a series of paintings, I can show you an image, just 4 pictures here with me though. There’s about 50 so far.
RG: Jesus.
SE: I’m not 100% sure what will be in the show. The way I make work is to make it and to arrive at a certain point where an exhibition starts.
RG: That’s really interesting because when I saw your work first I saw lots of different pictures and it looked like it was work by different people. It seems like the way you make work is to build a stock pile of components or something.
SE: I think it is that. Part of my working method is to lock myself into a studio for 10 hour days, 4 or 5 days per week, to create and not allow exterior things to get in the way, like “oh I have a show so therefore I need a coherent body of work.” To allow works to evolve by letting works be next to each other and one thing gives way to something else. Then hopefully at the end of a 6-7 month period when a show does come up some sense will be made of it.
RG: And if it doesn’t?
SE: Well there’s some kind of logic in the non-logic. But it’s also luck, I suppose, in the way that it does work or not. I think the worse way to approach a show is with an idea of what you expect it to look like. It’s got to be a gamble.
RG: Yeah. I think your components can seem to an outsider largely incoherent in terms of the way they relate to each other. Would you say that’s true or not?
SE: I think for an outside viewer it has to be picked at and scratched away. I don’t think you can walk into the gallery and instantly obtain one quick understanding of the body of work. I wouldn’t want that. I want the viewer to work as hard as I’d had to work over the course of the creation period in order to get an understanding of what I’m trying to do. Art shouldn’t be a quick fix. I remember when Bethan Huws talked about art, which can be like a McDonalds, it satisfies you for a few moments but you need another one straight after, and I think that’s quite a good analogy.
RG: Yeah, that’s nice. Do you think you have a specific audience?
SE: I wouldn’t say it’s a specific audience. And me, I suppose I’m my own audience. When I’m working in the studio and building up a body of work, I essentially have to look at it and make a lot of those decisions that a viewer might have to.
RG: There’s questions I have to ask like what art school you went to?
SE: Ok. I started at Cardiff then went on to do Sculpture at the Slade.
RG: Are you a sculptor?
SE: I’ve started to call myself a sculptor more than I used to.
RG: Why’s that?
SE: I think it’s partly my sensibilities, the work I look at and the way I approach work. Whether it’s painting or film I consider them a sculptural object, in the feelings evoked in people…
RG: I quite like that but I think other people would frown upon the idea of being called a sculptor because it narrows it, but the way you’re talking about it is a sort of optimism about physicality rather than some kind of close-mindedness about the process of making work. ‘Cause what you’re saying is that the film is physical?
SE: Yes, I think that when you edit a video or film you deal with physical procedures. Even on ‘i movie’ you’re dealing with cut and paste, all of those things that somehow tap into the physical world.
RG: It’s like carving. That’s funny because I’ve never thought about this before but traditionally there’s two forms of sculpture, the one where you add on or the one where you take away. So with editing, and you could say the same about text as well, you add and take away.
SE: Yes. I’m working on a found text piece at the moment where I’m subtracting text and making additions to it. It may or may not be in the show.
RG: What was the last show that you did?
SE: The Chapter residency and then the exhibition in the studio afterward. I made a body of work for 4 weeks and we opened it up for 5 days.
RG: Did you show everything?
SE: I showed all the objects but not all of the videos nor a lot of the drawings and smaller objects. I tend to make a lot of small objects that don’t get shown. The bulk of them end up on my studio shelves.
RG: What do you do with them? Throw them away?
SE: No I keep them. I don’t think they operate as maquettes, but there is a similarity. I haven’t established what the purpose is for them yet. I’m considering Associates might be one of the places where they will all come with me.
RG: Is there an overall thematic?
SE: No. I try not to have a theme. I find they evolve through a show, through a working process and during installing a show.
RG: So really it’s quite a short time period for you to… if a lot of the work is made in the site…
SE: A lot of the work is completed in site.
RG: Would you ever re-show a work? I’m just enquiring because I want to know whether the specifics of the work is you playing magician in the space.
SE: It’s to do with how we enter and position ourselves within a space.
RG: It’s the approachability… What about not living in London?
SE: It works for me. When I did live in London I think the work suffered for it. I think there’s a sense my work is actually located within the Welsh landscape. I hope that there’s a sensitivity in the work that is similar to a sensation evoked when you are walking in the Brecon Beacons or something.
RG: What else? Can you explain a bit about the video component that was at S1?
SE: The snooker video… I was looking at snooker and its relationship to the way I was working and the show coincided with the World Snooker Championships so we managed to get them to let me spend 2 weeks with the table fitters documenting the installation of the tables. From the base, to putting the slate on, laying the cloth, putting the cushions on and marking out. The procedures I was using were similar to the procedures the table fitters were using. It became about skill, precision, accident and mistake. All of those things that we have to deal with as artists and crafts people. It’s something I’m looking at in the studio now, through repetition and doing these small gestural things, how a physical sense of familiarity can be evoked in one way or another.
RG: Why do you want to have an exhibition at Associates rather than another space?
SE: Partly because it’s an artist-run space and I think that erm… [laughs]
RG: It’s funny because I don’t want to call it an artist-run space. The idea of an artist showing their own work isn’t as appealing for me as someone else taking a standpoint from outside that artist enough to say actually it’s really good to show.
SE: Yes, you’re running it to use your view point to select 12 artists and that’s the reason why I curated the G39 show without my own work in it.
RG: From what I can make out from your practice as a sculptor, or the idea of an editor, the next step in that professional role is a curator.
SE: This is one of the reasons Michelle Cotton offered me the S1 solo show, because of the curatorial stance I take over the work.
RG: Is there anything you want to ask me?
SE: No thanks. I was ready for the ‘what was the last exhibition you saw’ question.
RG: Oh yeah, shit. What was the last exhibition you saw?
SE: Chris Evans at Chapter… It was good. One particular sculpture I thought was very good. The sculpture for the Ahmed family, the strangulation tree. I couldn’t grasp what the material was on the first two viewings and then I realised it was bronze covered with pigment. Beautiful sculpture I thought.
RG: Cool.



Sean Edwards was born 1980 in Cardiff. He gained his BA Fine Art from University of Wales Institute (2003) & his MA Fine Art from The Slade (2005). Recent solo shows include an offsite project with Chapter Arts, Cardiff, & S1 Artspace, Sheffield. He also recently curated a show at G39, Cardiff, and teaches at the Cardiff School of Art and Design, U.W.I.C.