The 'Mariners Way' rope sculpture

Rope sculpture unravelled in exhibition on campus

Devon’s ancient pathway, the Mariners Way has been the inspiration for local artist Edward Crumpton, whose work is being exhibited at the University of Exeter from 27 April until 9 June.

A sculpture to celebrate the social history of this almost mythical walk was produced last year for the University. Entitled ‘Mariners Way’, the huge knotted rope sculpture now stands proudly outside the entrance to the Forum building. One year on the University is staging an exhibition that investigates the artist’s thinking behind the piece and his experimentation with rope as an art form.

The exhibition’s three main themes are the interpretation of the ‘Mariners Way’ sculpture, documentation of the walk and the history of trading in the ports of Bideford and Dartmouth. Edward celebrates this journey by using knotted, tarred, marlin rope, a material fundamental to the lives of sailors in those times. Knot making would have had both a practical application in their work and served as a form of artistic expression. Mariners used knotting to create decorative pieces of macramé, a craft that began in the Middle East, spread throughout the world by sailors who would sell pieces to supplement their income.

This exhibition marks a development in Edward Crumpton's practice as an artist in extending his interest in the natural environment to also incorporate the social histories of rural life. Edward said:“For me the Mariner’s Way is a watershed moment in my career. Whilst the physical path and the landscape provided the initial inspiration, exploring the histories of the many mariners who walked this path has enabled me to add another dimension to my work”.

As a record of his 73 mile walk the artist has made a video explaining the thinking behind the Mariners Way sculpture, a map of the route, photographs of the sculpture being constructed along the walk, rope and barrel sculptures, limited edition wood cut prints, oil paintings and sketches inspired by the walk. A scale model (maquette) will also be on display, which shows how Edward envisages the Mariners Way sculpture will transform in the future into a Devon passage house.

Dominic Jinks, the Head of Arts and Culture Services at the University of Exeter said:“The University is pleased to be hosting this exhibition as it gives the opportunity for students, staff and the public to find out how Edward Crumpton developed his fascinating sculpture on the Streatham Campus and to learn more about one of Devon’s ancient pathways.”

After this exhibition, the ‘Mariners Way’ sculpture will be dismantled and then be reformed into a new sculpture called the Passage House. This will form part of the Heathercombe Gardens Sculptural Trail on Dartmoor in September. Following Heathercombe Edward’s sculpture will be transformed again for an exhibition at White Moose contemporary art gallery in Barnstaple from mid October to the end of November.

The exhibition is free-of-charge and open to members of the public from 8am – 8pm daily at the Forum, University of Exeter, Stocker Rd, Exeter.

Date: 19 April 2013

Read more University News