Laurence Edwards

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‘Man of the cloth’
A proposed Sculpture for Ipswich.

This sculpture depicts Wolsey in this last phase, a sixty-year-old man reflecting on a life journey, which started yards from the proposed spot (in St Nicholas St). A journey through one of the most exciting and capricious periods of our history.

I plan to create a large bronze figure clothed in the robes of office; his head will appear small in a protective carapace of cloth. This will also convey the sense of duty and responsibility accompanying the burden of high office. His portrait will be a study of a contemplative man.

He will stand on a large bronze carpet, (tapestry). It will be draped over a plinth , and will cover some of the pavement. The cloth will be reminiscent of a typical tapestry of the time (see the backdrop and the table covering, depicted in Holbeins ‘Ambassadors’) The cast will be made from a woven carpet commissioned for the sculpture, raised stitching will illustrate texts depicting important events and achievements, in Wolsey’s life. Namely the curbing of the powers of the nobility, the first’ means-tested’ tax system, The ‘Treaty of London’, Britain’s first ‘Foreign Policy’, and the ‘Amicable Grant,’ to name a few. The embroidery will be highlighted in relief in the bronze, and finished so it can easily be read.

The rug is emblematic of one of Wolsey’s most celebrated achievements - the organising of the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’. The time when Henry’s court was moved to Arras, in France, in 1520 to demonstrate British wealth, might and culture.

The cast of cloth also provides opportunities to place bronze objects, pertinent to Wolsey, in the scheme. A Tudor brick, half hidden under the rug would represent the bricks with which Wolsey’s ‘Cardinal College of St Mary in Ipswich’, was built. On Wolsey’s death Henry had the college dismantled, brick by brick. These were then used at Hampton Court Palace. Also peeping out from under the rug could be a haunch of meat, alluding to his Father’s butcher’s shop. This stood almost opposite my site of choice, in Silent Street. A bronze scroll and book could evoke his learning and the many alliances, treaties, reforms and laws, which he devised, during an incredible career at the heart of European diplomacy, and law making.

He will look down onto this bronze drape and be seen to contemplate his achievements. Wolsey was a complicated man, the times he lived in and the offices he held, the council he kept and the choices he made, amounted to an extraordinary life, One he would have dwelt upon, as he battled to make palatable the end of a royal marriage, to the church of Rome. A conflict of loyalty and conscience, on which his life ultimately depended.

‘If I had served God as diligently as I did my King. He would not now have given me over in my grey hairs’. *


Laurence Edwards 2009

 

*”History of the Reformation of the sixteenth Century” J H Merle d’Aubigne, p1382