Elizabeth's subjects range from compact, haunting owls
and fat, curious frogs through
to religious and mythical figures like St
Christopher of the Sepik river and Leda
and the swan.
The pieces are enigmatic, both primitive and sophisticated in
subject and form. Edwards moves gracefully from a tiny Vegetarian
Mallee mini-fox in delicious Conkerberry to the magnificent ruminations
of Nebuchadnezzar (based on his seven year stint on all fours,
eating grass). The
Whistling boy in Applewood is playful
and carefree while the Beggar Woman
is empty and yearning to be filled. Hagar
is a heart wrenching picture of surrender while the Owl
sits silently, watching.
The tools she uses are the traditional mallet, chisels and files.
Modern power tools are far too urgent and violent. The wood is the
finest she can source; black African ebony, gnarled burls, pale
lime, dramatic conkerberry, gorgeous Australian Jarrah... every
piece has it's own story to tell.
Stories abound, in fact; as the individual pieces go on to become
part of people's lives. Centrepieces, symbols, comforts, conversation
starters, they are unique, wonderfully formed and beautifully finished.
They all have a pulse, there is something very essential in Edward's
work that gives each piece a presence that is irresistible.
Once the carving and rough finishing is done, the pieces are handed
over to her husband, Bill Johnston for the finishing. Hours of patient,
meticulous hand sanding, polishing and oiling result in something
of a miracle. Wood that glows in the light and feels almost soft
to the touch.
Each piece takes weeks to finish. There is no telling what the
next piece will be, it all depends on the initial conversation between
artist and wood. Invariably, the wood suggests the form and the
artist complies. Each work is lovingly brought in to the world,
tap by tap, stroke by stroke. Each is invested with care, time and
the spirit of an extraordinary woman.
Back to the artist...