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Ed Kluz . Beautiful Buildings as history is brought to life.

May 22, 2012

For me the highly decorative and painterly work of Ed Kluz, is a textile designers joy to behold. I was lucky enough to have a good long chat with him a few weeks ago and learnt a great deal more about his background and his inspiring work.

Having a Polish grandfather who bought a rambling old rectory in the fiftes, and the stories his father told him about living there as a child, in a half closed, shuttered and possibly haunted place, definitely sparked the early formation of Ed’s interest and eventual love of historical buildings.

His early paintings, (above) show a boldness and rich opulence that echo the fine buildings and grand establishments that intrigues his artistic eye. Ed told me many of these were created whilst he was studying painting at Winchester School of Art. At a time (late 1990’s) that the Britpop explosion was taking place. Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst were forefront. Ed was trying to find a place to fit into this art world but with a quality that was all his own. So he concentrated on understanding the materials he was using and expressing his love of narrative, whilst also exploring a feeling of duty for the painting to tell a story. He experimented with egg tempera, which is made with the yolk of the egg mixed from the raw pigment in order to give his paintings an artistic link to their historical past.

When working on a new piece, Ed prefers, whenever possible to firstly visit the site. Here he spends quite a long time just walking around the grounds and taking in it’s detail, absorbing the greater atmosphere of it’s setting and historical use and capturing ideas in sketch and photographic forms, to later work on in the studio. Where his work then develops into the decorative collage style that is apparent today.

More recently Ed’s work can also be found in the form of posters, book covers and through the fab St Judes website,  fabrics too. ‘Painswick’ so named as the imagery was taken from the Rococo garden  near Gloucester and the newly released ‘Lionheart’ named after an album by Kate Bush and depicting parts of post war Britain and of course the heraldic lion to go with it.

Ed was raised in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in Brighton.  He is a printmaker, illustrator, painter and designer. He finds inspiration in the historical objects, buildings, landscape and folklore of Britain. Although Ed has his own definite style, I can see an appreciation of the work of Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden in his work too.

He told me that another huge influence on his work came from the brothers Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, two engravers working in the 18th century, whose prints of English towns and castles had an early sense of drama to them. Dramatic in terms of their use of light and shade and the grand perspectives they gave to their prints.

His sketches sometimes also lead onto engravings and the wonderfully atmospheric pen and ink style Sgrafito illustrations.

I asked Ed to talk a little about how he worked. He told me ” the process of creating a paper collage is abstract. It’s a cumulative process of adding forms, textures and colours which build up the achieved effect. I’ll start with a sense of the impression I want to create. For me creating an image is about pulling forms from abstraction – about clarifying and simplifying. Often I will add extra elements such as foliage to create a sense of movement or to frame a view etc. I’m currently interested in the effect of dramatic light. Paper collage naturally lends itself to architectural subjects because of its clean cut lines and strong graphic quality. I will often work back over the image with a wash of darker colour to pull out more contrast and create a sense of light. I will often play with perspectives and colour to create a sense of how a building occupies the surrounding space and communicate a sense of place. Ultimately it is the genius loci which captures my imagination so it is important for this to be at the core of any work ”

He has recently completed commissions for the V&A, Faber and John Murray publishers. This year it is all about printmaking and he is currently working on a print commission for Pallant House Gallery in Chichester to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the house. Ed’s also started work with the Penfold Press in Yorkshire on a series of prints based on 18th century landscaped gardens. There’s also a toy theatre in the pipeline which should be ready for November, and a new wallpaper in the pipeline for St Jude’s. He is currently collaborating with Horatio Blood on his first fully illustrated book which is due to be published in 2013. Wow what a busy year ! There’s also some great information about Ed’s interest in buildings on his blog.

If you’re in London in May (until 26th) there’s an exhibition of Ed’s work at Ben Pentreath Ltd, 17 Rugby St, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 3QT. If you’re around Suffolk in June (8th to the 13th) there’s an exciting exhibition on at the Aldeburgh Gallery Showing work by Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, Michael Rothenstein. Walter Hoyle and Bernard Cheese and younger artists including Mark Hearld, Ed Kluz, Angie Lewin, Ian Beck, Peter Shread, Emily Sutton, Peter Firmin, Hannah Firmin, Chloe Cheese, Michael Kirkman and Colin Wilkin, many of who are alumni of the Royal College of Art, definitely one to look forward to ! More wonderful work here. Many thanks to Ed for his time and wildly interesting stories throughout the compilation of this blogpost. Some of his most recent work based on old London skylines below. A huge thank you to Ed, both for his time in answering so many of my questions and for keeping me most amused with his family anecdotes and further descriptions regarding his ways of working.  Keep up the wonderful work.

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