Lawrence Calver is known for a large-scale textile practice comprising a variety of reclaimed, recycled and historical fabrics, from cotton silk and linen to suede and wool. Calver's works are created with a fastidious care for the design and physicality found in abstracted painting balanced with an approach to assemblage that forges a lineage to quilt-making as an art practice.
Calver’s practice arguably operates within the idiom of modernist painting; taking the material support – the canvas or the plane – and sewing, bleaching, stretching or staining fabric to create works that aim to unify abstraction and representation. To further exploit surface tonality and texture, Calver also applies destrcutive yet performative processes such as submerging a piece of fabric in clay for weeks, allowing time to become a determinant factor in the works’ final state. Often working within a limited, earthy colour palette; Calver revels in the grain of the textiles and the variations in textures through which he conveys an atmosphere and delineation of form.
Calver regards his work as an organic process of experimentation and discovery, lead by his materials on a journey of improvisation. He regards his role in the work as a director, letting serendipity guide the final piece or perhaps, visual performance of his evanescent cast. Seeing opportunities in the material before he creates the work, each piece harbours an independent identity and in a parental role, Lawrence simply assists in that realisation. Calver’s works celebrate a beauty in the accidental - with compositions comprised of naturally sun bleached or degraded domestic or industrial fabric, salt water stained boat sails or the harried, darned holes in hessian sacks. It is arguable that the works harbour a quality akin to 'ready made’ sculpture - through Calver’s re-appropriation he elevates overlooked, once discarded fabric off-cuts. In this same spirit, more recent works see larger forms found in his compositions created from unpicked garment patterns - the geometry of which often lends his work elements of abstracted figuration.
Calver is careful to allow his fabric’s previous life to show through with its textural nuances and history as he sources rare and overlooked fabrics from around the world. By working with materials that already have a history, Calver invites the viewer on a forensic journey - commenting on both our cultural and human relationships to textiles. The viewer is invited to engage with the idea of a life before the work, a story from manufacture to reclamation that led to to each individual outcome. With this in mind, Calver’s works investigate themes of time, place and memory - and allows for the materials to powerfully evoke their geographical and historical origins. As such, Calver suggests a universality found in weaving, an ancient craft that unites, as well as defines the countries - individual cultures, unique climates and landscapes from where they originate. In our throw away age set against the backdrop of industrialised manufacture, these themes run concurrent to contemporary narratives surrounding sustainability and consumption.
Solo exhibitions include Under The Sun, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2022); Assiduity De Brock Gallery, Belgium, Brussels (2022); On The Off Chance, Simchowitz Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2021); Out of The Blue, Ruci Art Space, Jakarta, Indonesia (2020); Art and Interiors, Paul Smith Mayfair, London, UK (2019); A Level Playing Field, The Muse Gallery, London (2018); Lawrence Calver, Lite-Haus Galerie, Berlin, Germany (2016). Group exhibitions include; What Remains, Encounter Contemporary, Copeland Gallery, London, UK (2021); Chapter 1 Exhibition, The Biscuit Factory, London, UK (2018); Let Me Know Before You Arrive, Warbling Collective, London, UK (2018); Art in the City of Tomorrow, Unfold-Space, London, UK (2017); Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London, UK (2016).