9 November—18 December 2011
In the Weston Rooms
John Maine RA, Central granite carving for the installation 'After Cosmati' in process 2011. Image courtesy of the Artist. After Cosmati is a new environmental sculpture installation by John Maine RA. Maine is best known for making large outdoor sculptures in stone which form relationships with and are inspired by the surrounding landscape. Maine’s extensive travels have informed his sculpture and he has created monumental installations over the world. Maine’s new work for this exhibition will highlight his current interest in creating a sense of an expansive space within a contained area.
Maine’s work utilises simple forms such as rings, columns and cones. Physical weight and texture also characterise his work which encourages contemplation and a celebration of the elements. This piece can be viewed as a departure from his usual work in the landscape and is the first time that he has ‘brought the outside, inside’, on such a grand scale. The motivations behind After Cosmati vary subtly from Maine’s work in the past which has seen him respond to landscape, architectural traditions and found objects.
Maine has been closely involved as an advisor with the recent conservation of the Cosmati Pavement in Westminster Abbey. This unique medieval pavement, situated in front of the High Altar, was laid down in 1268 and is a highly decorative mosaic made of coloured marble, and glass. Formed of a group of nine main roundels, the geometric design is inscribed with the words; the spherical globe here shows the archetypal macrocosm; meaning, simply, that it symbolises the universe.
Film by Tom Maine
It is this notion of the archetypal macrocosm, and his intimate experience of the Cosmati Pavement, which has inspired Maine to create this new environmental body of work for the Weston Rooms. Attracted by the pavement’s ability to evoke the ‘sense of a world beyond’, Maine has created a grouping where the relationship between a diverse selection of stones –sourced from Brazil, China, Cornwall, India, South Africa, Scotland and Russia – is as important as the individual stones themselves. Lines marking out pathways suggest the idea of a constellation or linear map (this theme will be continued in the etched stone drawings in the Small Weston Room). Some of the stone’s surfaces have been intimately worked upon, carved and honed; others have been left to expose their natural grain and tonality. Every stone has been selected for a reason; ‘some create a setting and some create a focus’.
Listen to a recording of John Maine RA in Conversation with Richard Cork:
The Artists’ Laboratory is a programme of exhibitions which commenced in 2010. The series underpins the Royal Academy’s unique position in having artists at its core. They give Royal Academicians the opportunity to take risks and explore new ideas within their artistic practice and are a chance for the public to experience less familiar aspects of their work. Artists' Laboratory 05 & 06 will take place in autumn 2012.
Admission: Complimentary entry with a valid Royal Academy exhibition ticket. £3 without an exhibition ticket (book online here)
Learn more about John Maine's work
Watch a short film showing 'Chiswell Earthworks', a landscape sculpture by John Maine RA in Portland, Dorset.
Watch a short film about the making of John Maine RA's 'Weston Arch' in Weston-super-Mare.