Het Wilde Weten
Robert Fruinstraat 35
3021 XB Rotterdam
Wandering through forests, heaths or gardens, sailing on seas and brooks, by boat, by raft or digitally, deep into history and creating visions of the future, Edward Clydesdale Thomson is always searching. It is not about finding one specific thing, but about the process of exploring and learning, time and again, and never doing the same thing twice.
Thomson sees a forest, city, garden, sea or port as places in which ideological points of view, cultural, political or economic, are present simultaneously, as layers of earth, entangled branches, winding alleys and swirling waves. His practice is situated in the midst of such situations, tries to acquire a place there and claim time. During the exhibition Into Nature (2018) he wandered through Drenthe in a self-built studio on wheels, working and experimenting in relation to the heath and the forests, and various other persons and entities that crossed his path, ‘below the soil, between the branches and above the clouds’. After he abandoned his photo camera during his time at the Rijksakademie in 2011, the long-term residency and subsequent exhibition Nothin’ Shakin’ but the Leaves on the Trees (2015) at the Marabouparken Konsthall in Sweden was a major turning point. The exhibition was developed in contact and partnership with people who had a relationship with the nearby primeval forest. In a subsequent project wild care, tame neglect in Huize Frankendael in Amsterdam, he even remained in situ for two years. This resulted in a series of work clothes, an open studio, interventions in the garden, an exhibition, performances, guided tours and a play, always developed in partnerships of various kinds.
In addition to gardens and landscapes, water and the sea also have an important place in Clydesdale Thomson’s practice. For some time, he has been working on the project bound to the miraculous, together with Utrecht University and Breda University of Applied Sciences. In a digital environment, with real-time weather and climate data, they simulate Bas Jan Ader’s iconic work In Search of the Miraculous and his fatal boat trip across the Atlantic Ocean in a tiny sailing boat. The romanticism of the sea, the heroic stories, the forces of nature and also the mystery are brought to life with scientific data. In Middelburg, Clydesdale Thomson had a fishing boat hoisted in and out of the muddy water. spellbound refers to the different histories of that water, the fishing port, but also the slave trade in which the city was involved. The fact that situations are layered is also proved by another project, in Dordrecht: rivier, boot, stad (river, boat, city). Clydesdale Thomson built a replica of a historic tjalk, a typically Dutch sailing ship, with his team, shipbuilders, students and volunteers. The ship is an important symbol of the city, its prosperous history, economy and craftsmanship. After a long period of research and the building of the ship in an open studio that was visited by many people who took an interest in the project, the ship was pulled through the streets of Dordrecht slowly falling apart. The remains will become permanent sculptures. The building of the ship according to ancient customs in a contemporary context, with the people of today, and the event of pulling it through the city give Dordrecht a new story again, a new layer of meaning. Clydesdale Thomson’s projects need a lot of care and attention to embed themselves properly. This means that he always cooperates with his environment and the people in it, and that he has to continually redesign his artistic practice in it. He patiently observes what is there, what was there, and what passes by, in search of deeper insights and experiences, new images and stories, and never the same thing twice.
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