D series is an installation work assembled from precast concrete units configured in response to the light affecting a given space. It was initially shown in my former home, an Edwardian flat in Walthamstow, and was my first professionally documented project. In common with all my constructed work, the refurbishment and decoration of the interior was as important as the objects created for the space.
The following extracts from D series: installation and interior by Fiona Russell, introduces themes that occur both in this work and throughout the archive.
Daniel Edwards makes poetic objects out of grey concrete and natural light. The installation which Edwards created for his flat in spring 1998 comprises two groups of objects. Each object has found a home within an interlocking set of spatial possibilities. Once they occupy their ideal position the objects appear to float, cushioned by a dark shadow which intensifies as the day lengthens into early evening. Up close their heaviness and density are palpable, but take a step back and they seem light, almost friable. Concrete, the crudest of materials – cheap, heavy, modern matter – becomes delicate. The birch face of the plywood moulds used by Edwards to cast the objects leaves the pale trace of a grain, and the surface of each object is subtly different: some resemble slates marked by fossil wood; other pieces are slightly mottled as if marked by rainwater.
The objects seem almost organic. Edwards speaks of the pleasure of working with fresh concrete as if the material itself were a living thing: green, tactile, messy and smelling like rain. His immediate, sensuous, experience is reflected in the finished pieces. Concrete, seemingly the antithesis of traditional, historically loaded and sensitive materials, becomes an extraordinarily sensitive barometer. The minute passage of daily time is registered as the concrete absorbs the light in the flat and records it in subtle changes of surface tone.
The sensitivity of the objects makes the viewer intensely aware of the world they inhabit. The eye passes from the objects to the exact world of the purpose-built early twentieth century flat – the white linen coverlets and blinds, the sanded floor, the precise lines of the door frame, the skirting board and the architraves – and from there to the outside world – to the grey London sky above the blinds, the passage of clouds and their complexity. The vulnerable surface of the pieces echoes other vulnerable surfaces: the meticulously stripped wood of the floor and door; the raw surface of the linen coverlets; the delicate surface of the matt emulsion paint on the walls of the flat.
Edwards begins by using a variety of 2d and 3d drawing programmes. He simulates his objects, but then uses visual observation to inform, for example, the creation of shadows. Rather than beginning with an environment, he creates a world for his objects which is doubly ideal – the drawings are both virtual and the product of the human, idealising, eye. This world can be adapted. Moreover, it obeys the same laws as the objects themselves. However, once he begins to work in the actual as opposed to the virtual world Edwards uses the most real and flawed of materials – concrete. But the concrete pieces seem to carry their ideal beginnings with them and make heavy demands upon the world around them. They are, as it were, prior to their environment and their effect is uncompromising. Their beauty and coolness exposes the world they share with other objects, slowing it down to the time it takes for a cloud to pass by the window outside.
Daniel Edwards makes poetic objects out of grey concrete and natural light. Their poetry is the poetry of film by Tarkovsky; the objects absorb us sufficiently for us to feel the passing of time. Edwards’ exacting aesthetic tests the idealism and limitations of both the virtual and the real. Moving from the hypothetical drawing to the most prosaic of materials, Edwards’ objects bring with them into the grey world of a London afternoon a presence simultaneously intensely real and hauntingly perfect.