Lawrence Dicks
Text by Louise Cameron

Lawrence Dicks was born in Lincoln in 1969. Soon after, his family moved to Northamptonshire, where he grew up. He went to the university of Plymouth Exeter, taking a year out between foundation and degree to travel the world with a girlfriend (now his wife). Lawrence had influential teachers, including a string of visiting artists, such as the renowned painter John Virtue, Nina Saunders, Neville Gabie, and Turner prize nominee Vong Phoaphanit. The teaching programme was conceptual, visual and creative, and many of his contemporaries have gone on to have highly successful careers as artists.

He knew early on that sculpture would be his medium, enjoying the physicality involved. Being naturally reserved, he enjoyed the contemplation it engendered, the physical and repetitive demands keeping him busy, but liberating his imagination. At University he was inspired by some of the great sculptors of the 20th century, Hepworth, Moore, Brancusi. The work of Peter Randell Page, David Nash, and Richard Long have influenced him since he began his own practice.

His over arching interest is the human condition- what it feels like to be alive, indeed why we are alive. Making sculpture may seem like a blunt instrument to explore these questions in the 21st century, as information is so readily available to us. We have become adept at scanning, editing and moving on as quickly as possible. But Lawrence believes sculpture can be more potent than verbal communication in some areas of human experience.

Lawrence Is not interested in creating shapes that are easy to scan, edit and move on quickly from. His intention is to make, the viewer pause, take a closer look, engage on a deeper level. And, he has observed that everyone will have a unique reaction to the arrangement of a series of objects, especially when they are concerned with cell structure- the very stuff humans are made of! So, by using cellular structure as his starting point, and slowly exaggerating, deconstructing the repeating patterns into strange, tactile, yet simple objects - then witnessing each viewer’s subjective response, this serves as a reminder that we are all very different.

Lawrence works out of his studio in West Sussex. He often works with limestone, cut from blocks by Chichester Cathedral stonemasons. He prefers the warmth of this material to Marble. His ability to remain directly connected to the creative process is inevitably less direct when casting in bronze, yet he finds this an extremely beautiful and enduring material to work with. Generally speaking, he does not use colour in his work, although an exception to this is found in a piece entitled ‘cluster’. The cluster represents cancer cells, which under the microscope can look strangely beautiful. He chose the colour red, because when you look directly at the colour, and then take your eyes away, it leaves you with a green tint, thus being not what it seems.

In 2011, Lawrence was invited to participate in an Exhibition at Chichester Cathedral, entitled ‘Sculpture in Paradise’, organised by Philip and Jean Jackson. Previous exhibitors in it’s 20year history have included Elizabeth Frink, William Turnbull, Lynne Chadwick, and Sophie Ryder. When Lawrence was commissioned by a couple to enlarge one of his small bronze pieces for their garden in the prestigious Great Pulteney Street in Bath, he asked the renowned technician, Richard Clarke (who works with sculptors all over the world, including Damien Hirst), to enlarge the piece. Since then a great friendship has developed, and Richard Clarke has gone on to produce all his moulds, enlargements and fabrications.

Lawrence also creates drawings, using charcoal on board which he has primed white. Again these drawings are very physical to make; He begins by deconstructing and exaggerating ‘form’ as he sees it. There are lots of decisions to make, building-up the drawing and then taking away, until the piece is resolved. This is not dissimilar to the way he makes his sculpture. Many drawings are used as reference, although more recent sculptures are more direct, so have no need for this, and the drawings are works in their own right.

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