John Edgar ONZM
New Zealand sculptor John Edgar has achieved international renown over four decades. Throughout his career he has pursued the ancient knowledge of stone carving techniques in his travels to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and India. Edgar has physically explored and selected individual stones from the great quarries of Scotland, Australia and India, and has also prospected for stone in New Zealand’s South Island. Central to his practice are strong links to the environment, bringing into balance the elements of concept, material and process. He says of these objects, ‘These slices of the land are revelations of how intimately the environment meshes. How seamless are the interrelationships of earth and sky, land and sea, heaven and earth, black and white? The convergence of the two into one.’
Edgar’s stone pieces are not the result of a studio production team: from selection of the stone to the final polishing, through to difficult international freight logistics, all aspects of his work (and complex installations) are wrought by the artist himself.
Edgar’s fascination with duality has been a consistent thread throughout his work. He slices stone and inserts bands, crosses and lines of contrasting stone or glass. Enormous technical sophistication is necessary to create works without flaw, fault, scratch or blemish. Edgar’s complete control over his medium and the powerful modern tools used to sculpt, allow for a seamless convergence. He recombines that which has been divided, turning natural forms into artefacts instilled with a simplicity and modernism that belies the technical processes involved.
Exhibiting since 1979, Edgar is well represented in public and private collections both in New Zealand and abroad. A survey exhibition Stone Lines (1989) followed by four nationally touring exhibitions Making Amends (1993-1995), Cross Country (1996), Lie of the Land (1998-1999) and Calculus (2002-2004) presented his work at key stages in his career. In 2004, Edgar installed a public commission titled Transformer, in the Auckland Domain, New Zealand, and in 2009 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to art, in particular to sculpture. In 2012 Great Britain’s Crown Estate commissioned the sculpture Lie of the Land for the Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park, United Kingdom.