Adam Dant's Edward Green Landscape
Adam Dant with his Hogarthian eye and densely layered illustrations was a natural choice to lead you on a merry journey through the world of Edward Green. The Jerwood prize-winning artist has gained a reputation for superbly researched intricate drawings that combine history, fantastical stories and more than a hint of humour. He was appointed Parliament's official artist for the 2015 British general election campaign.
From town to country, Dant has a series of vignettes of the Edward Green gentleman and the cordwainers’ crafts, centred around a statue of that icon of English style Beau Brummell. This has now taken pride of place across the road from Brummell’s statue on the wall of our Jermyn Street store. In addition to documenting Adam at work in this video here - we asked Adam to write a little about his approach.
"I have always been drawn to works of art that have been created using the minimum of means. The elegant fluidity of Guercino's pen and ink sketches, Picasso's erudite manipulation of found, everyday materials, the narrative complexity of a Hogarth preparatory drawing. These examples are all seemingly underpinned by some kind of creative conjuring. That is 'the art'.
The artworks that emerge from my own studio have usually been achieved with a single, size 4 sable brush, a bottle of sepia ink and a very large piece of paper. There's not much need for anything else in the workshop save for a piano and the dog, both of whom provide an excuse to periodically step away from the drawing board.
Allied to the subject in hand, whether a visual catalogue of the drinking habits of the British monarchy, the arcane world of the hedge fund manger or indeed the landscape of the Edward Green shoe, the desired focus provided by simple, good quality materials gives absolute reign to 'art' in the realm of invention, humour and the stylistic flourish which hopefully results in visual narratives that might stand alongside and act as a challenge to the 3D Technicolor cinematic visual onslaught of the modern world.
There is also, in this habitual reliance on honest materials, an obvious reference to the kind of invention and ingenuity made legendary in stories such as the Great Escape, Ice Cold in Alex and - my favourite - Robinson Crusoe.
I had always assumed that the creative, mental state achieved through such pared-down engagements with the process of crafting 'objects of desire and necessity' would, when applied to the best of materials in more ideal circumstances, enable the manipulation of such with an effortlessness and ease that would transcend their status as 'the best materials'. The best block of Carrera marble is no more than a clumsy doorstop without the experience, verve and invention of the chisel wielding stone carver.
"What I’ve been doing in my drawings is up to date, it’s recognisably ‘now’ but it also has an element of nostalgia to it. Edward Green shoes have a similar approach embodying the craftsmanship and the traditions of the past in the lifestyle of the modern gentleman.”
As with the finest of footwear, the creation of which I was fortunate enough to witness as I sketched it from start to finish at Edward Green's Northampton home, I want my drawings to be noticed for something other than their being 'drawings' as a shoe is, on the correct foot, more than a shoe.
In the same way that the best shoe fits not just the foot, the look and the personality of the wearer but also somehow defines and inhabits comfortably the situation and circumstances in which it is worn, I attempt in my drawings to present something akin to this process of establishing the perfect fit. An overarching theme, such as 'the Edward Green landscape', urban and rural, acts as an armature onto which I can append all manner of anecdotes, scenarios, histories and even the occasional flourish or frippery to create a situation worthy of habitation by the intellect of even the most refined viewer.
As the left shoe is more than just a match for the right but more a complimentary foil to it, the scenarios depicted on one side of my creation 'The Edward Green landscape' find an unusual but suitable match on the other.
The chap in town is dressed in dark suit and black oxfords in contrast to his tweed clad brown brogued county self but both are seen enjoying the same best bitter. Where one may enjoy a frank exchange of views in town with a cabbie, in the country a chap's same opinion might elicit a different form of aggressive retort from the bucolic type. Country pursuits, angling, shooting and the like are matched in town by the roulette wheel and the hunting down of rare 18th century cookbooks, the pleasures of the picnic by fine dining, the stroll beside the Serpentine matched by the brisk bridleway hack as the reassuringly steady pace with left following right following left maps out a topography reassuring in it's enduring and endearing presence.