Over the past weeks we've had the pleasure of hosting Harry Edwards onsite as he creates his latest body of work, for his solo show Happiness Comes in Waves.
Save the date Friday 9th April for the opening evening of this exhibition which will be onsite in our new zone now dubbed 'The Workshop'
We had Harry put together some words around life in Berlin, Summers in New Zealand and his work ~ read on and enjoy.
Words: Harry Edwards / Photography: Thomas Smith
I live with my partner Abbey in Berlin, Germany (is there another Berlin somewhere? I don’t know), we moved there in the summer of 2019 and we’ve shared a studio together too, she’s a badass business brained bitch with impeccable taste. Having her energy in the studio has definitely been beneficial, I can only comment from my point of view but I like to think that we counter each other's natural talents, (mine being somewhat raw unrefined sometimes self deprecating creative energy) which was a complete surprise and complete miracle really. I one-hundred-percent owe it to her that the last year of painting has been the most productive since I started painting. We spend a lot of time in New Zealand seeing as she’s from here and I have family here and it’s where we met back in January 2017, I had finished my fine Art degree in London 6 months previously, and was living a bit of a chaotic existence. She eventually, after a long and damaging process with UK visas and immigration, involving deportation, airport prison and seeking asylum in Berlin for the summer, ended up in London where we stayed for another two years. I was pretty involved with the band I was in at the time, along with some other unhealthy lifestyle choices, and we basically ended up in Berlin after Abbeys UK visa ran out seeing as she had such a great time there two years before. In Berlin I finally had the time space and money to start making paintings on a regular basis since I graduated from Art school, the mental capacity and freedom to start writing music for myself again, which I probably hadn’t done since before my serial-monogamously-featuring-in-different-bands phase started when I was 17. Basically my journey with painting and music and where I’ve ended up creatively, is intrinsically linked to Abbeys and my dynamic and our story, where we’ve been and where we’re going.
What I try to do is capture something, half the time it’s pretty obscure, the other time it’s pretty well formed in the visual brain, in terms of composition or imagery, but when it comes to getting it down on the canvas it almost always changes. It’s not dissimilar to a fight, because that initial feeling is so fleeting you have to fight to get it down before it disappears. With this kind of work it’s really important that you don’t lose that energy that was there when it was started, throughout the whole process, therefore it’s much easier to tackle the thing in one sitting. It’s pretty tough, maybe even impossible, to try and get back to what mental state you were in, that conjured that tiny little snippet of an idea, that essence of emotion.
Coming from a songwriting background definitely informs the paintings, titling is a pretty important and (mostly) enjoyable process. Sometimes the title comes first and it might actually encapsulate the initial emotion that the idea was born out of. Because spontaneity is such an important factor in this process, you’ve got to be pretty playful so it lends itself to humour and jokes and having a laugh. Usually if laughter is around when you’re making the thing, then you know it’s working in some way, because it’s evoking an emotional reaction. On the flipside the work could also give you this hideous aching feeling in the pit of your stomach, that’s great too.
I work pretty fast and exude a lot of energy, I use oil paint; it takes longer to dry so you can move it around on the canvas, I work with the canvas on the floor so that gravity doesn’t mess with the scene. Instinctively I would prefer working on a large scale because it’s such a bodily process, so smaller work is a bit like trying to do a dance in a cardboard box; not impossible, just takes a bit of mental planning. There was a painter called Karel Appel and he once said (something to the effect of) ‘Paint doesn’t automatically have emotion, you have to force the emotion into it with your actions’, and I reckon he got it on the nose there.