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 regarding the first pattern:
The first pattern takes the 1830’s as its period of reference. I was particularly interested in the distinctive diamond-shape that dominates patterns from this era. That diamond shape resonating today in a line between the urban and the rural, a line often represented by the similar diamond-shaped pattern of a chain link fence. Or by the stitching that contains the stuffing on ‘rural fashion’, most notably the Barbour jacket. The colours used in this period were bold, dominated by blues and purples contrasting with often brighter backgrounds. Within forestry these were the last days of pre-industrial forestry in Sweden. A time just before the large push of selective cutting swept the whole country taking out the largest timbers. A time of Swedish state self-colonisation through the young men and women encouraged by government incentives to begin a smallholding in what was though of as the uninhabited northern and inland territories. These lands were of course not uninhabited and the traces of this previous inhabitation can be read today in the scars and marking left in culturally modified trees all across the northerly Swedish forests. Areas of forest were cleared by these new landowners to make way for fields and the timber used locally. Timber was yet to become a valuable commodity and so these smallholdings expanded slowly. The figure of an individuals’ relation to forestry being one of immediate necessity became a centre point in developing this pattern. Immediate necessity coupled with an idea of proximity, being surrounded by this forest, living in it. The pattern is comprised of two layers: firstly, a back layer, made using a simple hand pressed stamping technique, contains relatively simplistic representations of a pine branches and springs. A form that developed though trying to create a simplistic, almost naive representation of a forest as one thing, one whole (the forest, the north, the wild). The top layer consists of a one-to-one scale bark rubbing of a pine tree. The large rubbing, two meters tall and seventy centimetres wide, was then cropped into the crosses which, when combined, create the distinctive diamond pattern of ‘empire style’ wallpapers.
Artist Name: Edward Clydesdale Thomson
Dimension: repeat 200 x 70 cm
Title: Dead-standing bark peeled, clear cut, windthrow, lumber, pulp, Pattern 1