A work produced in response to the Red Mansion Prize’s month-long residency in Beijing, 赌石 addresses aspects of education, craft, simulacra and institution, using material and context as a covert medium. In the eventual group exhibition, held at the Royal College of Art’s Dyson Gallery, this work and that of the other residents occupy a relatively new space, usually used for student showcases and fundraisers.
A studio lamp casts a strong light onto a varied array of partial and whole plaster figures, replicas of classical, renaissance, and neoclassical works, mixed with geometric solids and boulders on a 3-tiered display stand, itself resembling a tell-tale Chinese pictograph. Some, cut open to reveal a faux-jade interior, are enhanced by an amateur geologist’s LED torch; others are smeared with the debris of the atelier: sanguine and charcoal.
A series of archive photographic reprints show the development of the host institution’s own cast gallery and teaching rooms; forms and figures evident in the displayed collection are visible.
The punctuation preceding an enumerative, chronological list of those who have aided the realisation of the work hides a gemmological truth, aware of its singularity amongst generations of simulacra and high-effort homage reproduction.
A gesture of secretive, non-verbal bidding techniques is obscured beneath a draped polishing cloth, both adapted from street trade observances alludes to a fashionable, but potentially ruinous gambling industry based on raw stone and expert observance; a trade in labour and precious commodity, obfuscated and assisted by the finest artisan copyists in the world.
Gypsum Plaster, Expanded Polystyrene, Glass, Jadeite, Emulsion, Sanguine Chalk, Permanent Marker, Redwood, Chamois, Rolson® LED Torch & voltage adaptor, Strand® Quartet Studio Lantern, Acrylic, Mild & Tool Steel, Digital photographic prints on Aluminium.
With thanks to:
Sarah Jephcott - Regional Manager, East Asia Team, Coventry University.
Xiaofei Yue - Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.
Stella Wang - Assistant Director, AIP Language Centre, China Education Federation of the Arts.
Professor Sun Wei - Director, Sculpture Research Institute, Central Academy of Fine Arts.
Andy Liu - Supervising Manager, Beijing Discovery Tours.
Xinhua Zho - Xin Hua Fine Art Supplies Factory, Xiadian Town, Hebei Province.
Jennifer Lindsay - University of New Hampshire & Beijing Capital Normal University.
Eleanor Crook - Sculptor and Medical Artist.
Kehan Li - Loupe Jewellery Valuation & Consultancy.
Claire Camden - Gaffer Glass.
Angela Jarman - Glassmaker.
Alexandra Burnett - Collections Manager, Royal Academy of Art.
Dr Milena Melfi - Assistant Curator, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
Dr Marjorie Trusted - Senior Curator of Sculpture, Victoria & Albert Museum.
Scott Pohlschmidt - Founder and Tutor, Lavender Hill Studios.
Edward Johnson - Director of London Education, Gemological Institute of America.
Cheryl Papasion and Alex Wood - Chelsea College of Art and Design.
Rob Ong - Brand Consultant, MetaDesign Beijing.
Rachel James - Designer, Rachel James Ltd.
Red Gate Gallery
Emma Karasz - Residency Program Coordinator, and Linzi - Residency Intern.
Nina Nimalamu - Former Residency Program Coordinator.
Liao Shang Xiang - Sculptor, and Mr Zhang - Driver.
Vicki McConville and Josie Martin - Residents.
Royal College of Art
Len Massey - Drawing Studio Tutor.
Neil Parkinson - Archives & Collections Manager.
Irene Gunston - Foundry Manager.
Anthony Harris - Technician, Cold Glass.
Mary-Ann Simmons - Technician, Jewellery & Metalwork.
Simon Ward - Photography Technician.
Hardeep Virdee - Fine Art Administrator, Academics and Painting.
Jian Zhou - Printmaker.
Michael Neilson - Facsimile & Replication Technician, Department for Conservation.
Dr Dirk Booms - Curator, Department of Greece and Rome.
Heidi Kinman, Keith Bowler, Imraz Khan, Sam Rowelsky, Darrin Cobb, Steve Moore, David Freeman, Raine Smith and Moacir Lopes.
Technical and Academic staff, Faculty of Media, Arts and Design.