The Fielden Project

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Laura Davies

Laura Davies

My sculptures are portraits, made from found, discarded materials that are full of narrative and identity. Old pieces of furniture and items of clothing represent the life of the people who used and loved them. I transform them to create a visual story; an adventure of turning an impossible, unyielding material into a wise old face equipped with laughter lines and the etchings of experience. These faces are a lyrical expression of life and my aim is to convey the sense of morality that can be contained simply within a face. I hope to capture the imagination of those who encounter them and evoke a feeling of familiarity.

I am inspired by my upbringing in rural mid Wales, in a close-knit Welsh-speaking village. I spent my childhood surrounded by mountains with rocky faces and skies with cloudscapes, which told a tale or predicted a storm or sometimes parted to reveal a rare chink of blue. I spent my childhood drawing the severe grey slate-clad chapels and people whose faces were testimony to a rural and culturally unique way of life.

My exhibits for the Fielden Project at the church will include an installation of figures which have been made from the seats and fabric removed from a public bus. The fabric from the spare seats was stripped and sculpted into portraits of the people I have observed. They are amalgamated from many studies and sketches made in charcoal from life; at the market, on the bus, at the bandstand in the park. My aim is to explore feelings of mortality and re-incarnation by representing the thousands of people who have travelled upon the seats. These bus figures will form part of an imaginary congregation for the church.

The church and its spiritual power is made entirely by the people who inhabit it. In response to this I have used a collection of mens tweed jackets, rope and coat hangers to represent the human and mundane aspect of the spiritual awareness. In life, work, love and death. I am using this fabric to convey this relationship and its manipulation from a flat surface to re-create a person and describe a sense of being and sense of place. These tweed angels will inhabit the church and challenge the austere ‘sacred’ space representing real-life and experience.

I will also present a participatory work where visitors will be invited to construct a table cloth which will be made from a collection of old fabric cloths collected from the local church fairs. The audience will be offered the tools, instructions and possible workshops to learn embroidery stitches and contribute their time, knowledge and ideas in stitch. As the exhibition proceeds, the table cloth and its decoration will grow and evolve.