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Graham Ellard & Stephen Johnstone

Weston Studio, RA Schools

26 Sep — 6 Nov 2019

Shot over three years in the Royal Academy Schools studios, Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone’s 16mm film installation ‘FOSSIL’ explores the RA’s extraordinary collection of architectural casts.

FOSSIL focuses on the Royal Academy’s collection of historic architectural casts, copies of antique columns, capitals and friezes. They were once used as teaching aides at the RA Schools. But, since the Architecture School closed in the 1950s, these casts were hidden behind temporary walls.

This film records the precarious revealing of the casts and their ungainly demounting. Their removal was undertaken by hand, using webbing, ropes, pulleys and physical force in much the same way that they were installed in the mid-nineteenth century.

Periods of intense colour punctuate the immersive, large-scale film projection. In these sequences, the casts evoke Jean Painlevé’s eerie underwater films of crustaceans, molluscs and seahorses, or the encrusted shipwrecks in Jacques Cousteau’s early film, Silent World. The casts are re-imagined as ancient life forms, now fossilized, that have been secreted from the walls of the RA Schools Studios.

The installation also includes a number of casts from the RA Collection that have been selected by the artists.

Download the exhibition leaflet.

Please note, the 16mm film closes at 5.30 pm on Fridays. The 16mm projector was not designed to run for extended time periods. Closing the film early reduces the risk of the projector overheating or malfunctioning.

Supported by Batia and Idan Ofer.

26 September — 6 November 2019

Sunday – Thursday 10am-6pm
Fridays 10am-10pm

Free, no booking required.

Weston Studio, RA Schools