“Our ability to convey meaning to one another, through time and space, by making marks has revolutionised human culture and society.” Peter Randall-Page
A new public sculpture by artist and Royal Academician Peter Randall-Page The One and The Many has been commissioned for the recently opened Fitzroy Place in London and comprises a 3.5-metre high, 25-tonne naturally eroded granite boulder, inscribed over it’s entire surface with marks carved in low relief. The carving incorporates writing systems from the earliest Cuneiform script from ancient Mesopotamia to modern languages; the marks conveying creation stories from various cultures around the world. Creation and origin stories are common to all human societies and one of the earliest uses of written language was almost certainly to set down these stories by making marks on clay, papyrus and vellum. The One and The Many is an exploration of the ways in which we have mused, through a wealth of poetic musings and epic narratives, on the problem ‘In the beginning’, as well as a celebration of human ingenuity and imagination.
It is almost impossible for us to imagine a world without writing systems, a world where the only form of communication and dissemination of knowledge and ideas was through face-to-face contact. Our ability to convey meaning to one another through time and space, by making marks has revolutionized human culture.
In Peter’s words “These myths and legends have been distilled by a kind of ‘cultural natural selection’ over countless generations and as such they often tell us more about the human condition; our hopes and fears, than about literal cosmology”.
The naturally eroded boulder chosen for the sculpture is a fragment of solidified magma, the material our planet is made of, its overall form being the result of innumerable chance events over a geological timescale stretching back to the creation of the Earth itself.
The human desire to make the world meaningful seems to be ubiquitous and intrinsic to our very nature. An inevitable result of human consciousness is an awareness of our own mortality and endings imply the existence of beginnings. ‘The One and The Many’ is an exploration of the ways in which we have mused on the problem “in the beginning”.
The sculpture is located at Pearson Square, off Mortimer Street, London W1T 3BF and was commissioned by Exemplar and Aviva, developers of Fitzroy Place.
Peter was elected as a Royal Academician in the category of sculpture in June 2015 this year. The One and The Many is his largest project, following his monumental granite sculpture Seed, at the Eden Project, Cornwall in 2007. Further Commissions include ‘Give and Take’ in Newcastle, which won the 2006 Marsh Award for Public Sculpture; ‘Mind’s Eye’ a large ceramic wall mounted piece for the Department of Psychology at Cardiff University (2006); and a commemorative sculpture for a Mohegan Chief at Southwark Cathedral (2006). Recent projects include a major one-person exhibition in and around the Underground Gallery at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (June 2009 – April 2010), ‘Walking The Dog’, Dulwich Picture Gallery (2010), ‘Metamorfoz’, Eskisehir, Turkey (2011), ‘Ridge and Furrow’, University of Iowa, USA (2011), ‘Harmonic Solids’, Karlsruhe University, Germany (2013), ‘Theme and Variation’, University of Birmingham (2014) and facades at the new Laboratory Building at Dulwich College designed in collaboration with Grimshaw Architects (2015).
A website theoneandthemany.co.uk accompanies the work where more information about the project and english translations of the inscribed texts can be found.