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
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