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Edward Cronshaw

Edward Cronshaw is an English sculptor, who has in recent years championed a method of achieving form which inclines toward a practical utility of organic structure. Finding much modern sculpture too rigid in its form, too purposefully decorative and overly resistant to natural influences, Cronshaw works exclusively in natural materials - wood, stone, fruit, bone - and casts them in bronze. His work, although usually representative of a particular theme or subject, attempts to maintain a notable level of sensitivity to the innate characteristics of the original material.

Cronshaw was born near the town of Blackburn in the heart of industrial Lancashire, but raised on the family ranch in the rural Pendle district, a family home of such antiquity that a local hill even bears the same name, (Cronshaw's Seat). The ranch was sold in 1997 although Cronshaw no longer lived there at that time. At present he lives in the West Riding town of Todmorden with his wife and two children and has spent the greater number of his recent years living in the Calderdale metropolitan district that contains Todmorden. His career as a sculptor first took off whilst living in the famously cosmopolitan town of Hebden Bridge, and prior to his success could regularly be found playing pool in the dark corners of the Stubbing Wharf public house.

The town of Blackburn was Cronshaw's childhood home and was also the place he first encountered the art world, studying a foundation course at Blackburn College. From there he went on to the Leeds school of art and finished his BA at St. Martins School of Art in 1984. In the years 1985 to 1986, Cronshaw successfully studied for an MA in fine art at the Royal College of Art.

Edward Cronshaw's work has been displayed at many prestigious galleries and exhibitions including the Rebecca Hossack gallery (London), the Caz gallery (Los Angeles), the Henry Moore Gallery (Leeds), the Royal Academy Summer Show, the Los Angeles International Contemporary Art Fair, the Liverpool Garden Festival and the Third World and Beyond International Art Fair in Sicily.

Perhaps the two most important events in launching his career into that of an internationally recognised artist were the commissions won by Cronshaw to create sculptures for Liverpool City Council and for the Boots PLC head office in Nottingham. The latter was a 20ft statue of the earth goddess Gaia, Gaia's body clothed in 3,000 succulent plants intended to suggest the transitory nature of life. The statue was cast by means of the ancient lost wax method at Cronshaw's studio/foundry at the Dean Clough complex in Halifax, Calderdale.

The sculpture created for Liverpool City Council was named 'The Great Escape' by Cronshaw, and has become one of the city's most popular sculptures. Indeed, the "Horse's Balls" have become something of a legendary point of reference amongst the student community of Liverpool with people often using the object of this soubriquet as a meeting place. The Great Escape was quite a task for Cronshaw, coming at a time when his foundry was still far from capable of dealing with a sculpture of such mammoth proportions, but the money won to create the sculpture slowly led to the improvement of the facilities so that he was eventually able to complete the sculpture almost entirely by himself. The sculpture is a bronze cast of a horse, 15ft high and 4 tons in weight, formed entirely from rope in a spaghetti fashion. At the horses tail a piece of rope extends to the ground where a life-size sculpture of a man steps upon the rope forcing the horse to rear and apparently unravel itself in a bid for freedom. This scene is intended to reflect man's efforts to free himself of slavery, Liverpool formerly being one of the chief ports in Great Britain supporting ships which supplied the slave trade in America.

Currently Cronshaw is continuing to work on his popular Midas Project of bronze succulent plants, as well as initiating a campaign to improve the environment of his adopted home of Todmorden by placing sculptures in and around the town centre.

Criticisms

Cronshaw's work is sometimes accused of being too 'safe' in its reflections of a very popular modern trend towards the organic, a trend that some say he is cynically exploiting to high-jump the obstacles that would have otherwise been encountered due to the many technical inaccuracies of scale that are easily identifiable in his work.

The Great Escape

References

1. The Rebecca Hossack Gallery
2. The New Statesman
3. The Halifax Evening Courier
4. The Dean Clough Arts Site

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