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Feature: Exhibition - Artists’ Laboratory 04, John Maine RA, After Cosmati at Royal Academy Until December 8

Artists’ Laboratory 04, John Maine RA, After Cosmati

Published: 17 November, 2011
by JOHN EVANS

Sculptor John Maine was an adviser on the conservation of the 13th-century Cosmati Pavement by the high altar at Westminster Abbey.

The 7.58-metre square of tesserae, from the days of Henry III, inspired the artist – who has also just completed a major permanent artwork called Sea Strata at Green Park Underground station – to the theme for his new Royal Academy show.

After Cosmati features, as its main installation, a carefully selected and meticulously positioned grouping of stones, some highly worked, some not.

A Chinese crystalline sphere; more granite from India and Russia and a monolith from Brazil; sandstone from South Africa, and pieces from Cornwall and Scotland; in all, 20 tonnes plus.

Maine, feted for his large outdoor works (such as Arena on the South Bank) describes the abbey’s pavement as “a very complicated piece of medieval geometry”.

Here, indoors, continues that line.

Of his own mystical and beguiling new show, which also includes a series of etched stone drawings (see above), he says: “Really it isn’t a words game. You see something as an artist, you feel something you have to do something about – the last thing to do is to copy it.”

l Artists’ Laboratory 04, John Maine RA, After Cosmati, to December 18, www.royalacademy.org.uk

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