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 3:
The third pattern takes the 1950’s as its period of reference. In this period Functionalisms’ influence on the patterns can be seen thought the abstract forms and shapes dominating the wallpapers and though the use of muted colours. The idea that a wallpapers’ design could be somehow universally applicable no matter your taste in furnishings, resulted in patterns which were deliberately vague. Forestry in this period reaches a radical shift in its very core. No longer is forestry a process of extraction from a living natural resource. The ideals of modernity combined with the objectivity of scientific thinking no longer considered the forest to be something pre-existing to be worked with but rather something new, which could be formed in the image of modernity and efficiency. This new forest was mapped, measured, counted, monitored and controlled with modern precision. Every aspect of forestry was defined by the goal of greater efficiently and productivity to such an extent that you could almost see this as a belief. It was sincerely believed that an efficient forest was a healthy forest and it was a forester’s moral obligation to keep it so. This is the period where clear-cutting really began in earnest. Where the spraying of defoliation agent from aeroplanes began with the aim of eradicating the ‘inefficient’ leaf trees. Where mechanisation really came to the forest. In making this pattern I was interested in the idea of the removal of the individual forester. That there was no singular character at the centre but rather a sincere belief in modernity and progress. I was also interested in the idea of the micro and the macro, of studying the mechanisms by which trees grow and applying the conclusions of these studies to landscape-scape actions like clear-cutting or defoliation. The pattern consists of two layers. The background consists of hundreds of thin hand drawn lines that do not form any structured pattern. The lines trace the year rings of an enlarged core sample from a fire scarred tree trunk. This sample was given to me by Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson of Mid Sweden University, it is one of many core samples he and his team study in order to look at historic fire frequency. The upper layer consists of many small bark rubbings of individual fragments of birch bark. This layer was inspired by the fragments of birch bark I encountered in the Swedish forests where defoliation agent had been used. The bark of the birch tree being the last part of the tree to decay, snakeskin like birch bark fragments can still be seen today around many forests.
Artist Name: Edward Clydesdale Thomson
Dimensions: Repeat 200 x 70 cm
Title: Dead-standing bark peeled, clear cut, windthrow, lumber, pulp (pattern 3)