Edward Clydesdale Thomson (b. 1982) is a Scottish/Danish artist based in the Netherlands. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam and the BArch program at the Glasgow school of Art. He was resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam (2011–12). In 2011 he was awarded the Lecturis Award and nominated for the Prix de Rome.
Clydesdale Thomson has in previous works concerned himself with the ideological notions behind particular landscapes, exploring for example the history and aesthetics of environments such as the 19th century topiary garden at Earlshall Castle in Scotland, or the abundant overgrowth of a Danish summer house area built in the 1960s. During an extended stay in Stockholm his attention turned to the Swedish forests. Commonly cast in the double-natured role of exploitable resource and cherished cultural symbol, the forest holds a central position within Swedish society. It is, however, seldom discussed as an aesthetic expression of a particular ideology.
In this work, originally commissioned for the Malmö Art Museum, Thomson combines his research into the cultural history of the Swedish forest with his longstanding interest in wallpaper as a material and aesthetic medium, posing the question if and how the escalating industrialization of the forest in Sweden between the beginning of the 1800s until the 1970s might have crossed over with shifts in aesthetic practice and representation. Using historical wallpapers as reference, the final work is a speculative reflection on the possible relationship between wallpaper as an industrially manufactured wood-based product, and an aesthetic link between societal change and the domestic interior.
Artist Statement about the second pattern:
The second pattern takes the 1920’s as its period of reference. Vast changes had occurred in forestry between these first two patterns. From the mid 19th Centaury, spurred on by newly negotiated tariff free trade with the United Kingdome and the industrial revolutions’ need for wood, Swedish companies had begun to form the idea of forestry as an industry. A group of former mining companies were well placed to capitalise on this new market and over the course of a 20 year period at the end of the 19th contrary bought great swaths of the Swedish countryside from the previously mentioned smallholders. The forest had become a commodity and these companies set about the vast project of quantifying this new natural resource. By the 1920’s there were several very large and powerful companies dominating forestry in Sweden. These companies brought to bare modern thinking and science to the forest. At the same time you see the formation of the Swedish Society of Nature Conservation and the establishment of the first national parks. These organisations were founded in urban centres and I think its fair to say that here we start to see the formation of a modern notion of wilderness and nature as something in diametric opposition to urban industrialisation, yet inherently linked as some sort of shadow. Wallpaper patterns from this era looks both to nature, science and exoticism. Art Nouveau and Art Deco patterns often juxtapose representations of plants and flowers with geometric grids and patterns. The colours of these patterns are notably more muted than in the 1830’s. The aesthetic principles structuring these patterns often look to Japan and China for their sense of proportion. In considering this period I focused on the idea of people working together and using abstract scientific principals to quantify the forest. A period in which the modern idea of a forest was quite literally being looked for, and where these same people were forming a fictive image of the Swedish landscape as an unspoiled wilderness. The pattern consists of two layers. The background is a woodcut I made depicting Nackareservatet. The top layer consists of a geometric grid made by using industrial lumber to mono-print onto paper thus picking up the texture of the wood. The form of this grid is taken from a Art Nouveau pattern from that era.
Artist: Edward Clydesdale Thomson
Dimensions: repeat 200 x 70 cm
: dead-standing, bark-peeled, clear-cut, windthrow, lumber, pulp (pattern 2)