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 pattern 4:
The fourth pattern takes the 1970’s as its period of reference. This era of wallpaper design is split between an extension of the earlier functionalism and a re-imagining and re-scaling of iconic elements of pre-modern design. The functionalist wallpaper of muted abstract shapes, thin lines and cold muted colours reached new volumes of mass production in building projects like the Miljonprogrammet. While on the other hand bright orange, brown and blue patterns emerged consisting of enlarged abstracted flowers, button’s and diamonds. These were significant shifts from the neutrality of the functionalist abstraction, although their simplified aesthetics did not read as a nostalgic view of a pre-modern era. Within forestry this can be seen as a high water mark of modernity within forestry. The idea of the high-modern forest in all its efficiency and rationality seemed all-powerful. Clear-cutting reached landscape-scale dimensions. Runways were cut into even the remotest forests to allow the spraying of chemical defoliation agents. The country was in a period of boom as were the forestry companies who pushed further and further into remote regions of the country eventually cutting the high mountain forests. By now forests across the whole country have been transformed into high-modern industrial forests. Yet, at the same time, the image of Sweden as unspoilt nature becomes burnt into a national imaginary. The march of modernisation reaches its first obstacles as protests begin in Stockholm against the felling of urban trees. The image upon which I began to develop this pattern was that of an automated landscape devoid of difference save for some glimmer of an romanticised imaginary wilderness. The pattern consists of three layers. The base later is a geometric pattern of small circles and triangles. This I made by mono-printing from a industrial potting tray produced by the company SCA to sprout seedling pines in a factory. The form of these trays determined only by efficiently, yet the pattern they create reminds of the functionalist patterns seen in this era. The middle layer contains a print the shape of which looks like simplified shapes of mountains and clouds. These forms are made by mono-printing industrial oriented strand board, a material made from leftover wood scraps. The texture of the board is clearly visible. The top layer is an angular pattern made using flagging tape, the type of tape often seen marking trees to be cut. The dynamic abstract form of the pattern is taken from an image I took of power lines against the sky in northern Sweden.
Artist: Edward Clydesdale Thomson
Title: Dead-standing bark peeled, clear cut, windthrow, lumber, pulp
Dimensions: repeat 200 x 70cm