Tuesday 6 September 2022
Works from the Estate of John Edgar ONZM (1950 – 2021)
Originally a chemist with a B.Sc. (Hons). from the University of N.S.W. Sydney, John Edgar ultimately chose a different career trajectory. As a largely self-taught sculptor and a passionate environmentalist, Edgar was to leave a lasting impact in all of the work he undertook.
Edgar first began sculpting in the 1970s and achieved international renown for his sculptures which are defined by their strong links to the environment and which balance elements of concept, materiality, duality, and process in a singular and seamless convergence. Throughout his career he travelled extensively, studying the ancient stone carving techniques practised in China, Japan, Korea, India, Scotland, and by Maōri in Aotearoa. Somewhat unique in his field, Edgar’s sculptures are the result of a singular and all-encompassing vision in which each piece, from the selection of the stone through to the final polishing of the fully-realised work, was entirely wrought by the sculptor himself. His work is characterised by extreme technical sophistication and complete control over his natural media which resulted in timeless works without fault or blemish.
John Edgar is represented in innumerous public and private collections in New Zealand and overseas. A major exhibition of his work, ‘Ballast’ was mounted in Scotland in 2009 and his work has been toured nationally in museum exhibitions including: ‘Stone Lines’ (1989), ‘Making Amends’ (1993-1995), ‘Cross Country’ (1996), ‘Lie of the Land’ (1998-1999) and ‘Calculus’ (2004). Edgar undertook several commissioned Public Artworks including one of his largest, Transformer, in Auckland Domain in 2004.
In his environmental work, John Edgar was chair of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society for 22 years where he fought tirelessly and successfully to protect the forest. He was recognised as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Art, in particular sculpture in 2009.
John Edgar in his home workshop, Summer Street, Ponsonby, Auckland - 1984
Photograph by Brian Brake for Craft, New Zealand, (Collection of Te Papa Tongarewa)