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Chris Chamberlain: Jewel of the Universe at ROA Gallery, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 4UY
4th to 15th December 2012
On the 3rd of December Pall Mall in London’s West End will be lit up by a dazzling new illuminated portrait of the Earth entitled ‘Jewel of the Universe’ made from precious gems, stained glass and LED lights.
Created by English-Chinese artist Chris Chamberlain, Jewel of the Universe shows the entire world from the perspective of looking down from space and consists of a third of a million hand-cut pieces of stained glass and 260 carats of jewels such as sapphires, aquamarines, zircons and a single diamond, each gem indicating a city.
Rubies and emeralds indicate spiritual centres such as Jerusalem and Mecca and thousands of turquoise-coloured pieces, each the size of a grain of rice, depict the great lakes and rivers of the world such as the Nile, Amazon, Yangtze, Mississippi and Ganges.
“Jewel of the Universe was created in loving honour of our world … and especially its precious life … a world that’s so endlessly fascinating, so endlessly beautiful … and with an aliveness that beams out into space as if with the chorus ‘here we are, there’s nothing better, there never will be’.”
The artwork is internally illuminated by over 6900 LEDs. Their light, a metaphor for the planet’s force of life, incandesces the glass, shimmers through thousands of fissures and beams out through the jewelled cities.
Jewel of the Universe is the first in a series of large scale, intricate works in celebration of the entire planet, its continents, regions, countries and cities.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Chris Chamberlain was born in Ipswich in 1963 to a Chinese mother and English father. He grew up in Hong Kong and has travelled extensively. The son of a Chinese painter, musician, calligrapher and performer, Chamberlain was exposed to Asian art from childhood. However, his own work is less influenced by traditional Chinese skills and more by what he describes as ‘China’s hard-working and dogged spirit which so often, for a distant common good, optimistically tackles huge, daunting tasks.’ ‘When I started the artwork I knew it would be incredibly demanding.’ He said. ‘But I had this Chinese quote by Lao-tzu in my mind: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I believe I’m built like that – to take the long, hard, hopefully worthwhile road.’
Chamberlain trained in mosaic in 2004, and in 2010 developed a unique technique in his London studio that he named ‘Grand Artimmosa’, of which Jewel of the Universe is the debut work.
FACTS AND FIGURES
A wall piece measuring 3.18M x 2.18M (10 feet 5 inches x 7 feet 2 inches)
Takes eight people to carry and install
Took 3500 hours over the course of 27 months to make
Created with a third of a million handcut pieces of glass
260 carats of jewels mark 1238 cities, 88 of which are in China
12 types of gems used: amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, diamond, emerald, iolite, peridot, ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, topaz and zircon
Zircons mark the world’s top 100 cities including London, New York, Dubai, Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing and Mumbai
Internally illuminated by 6912 high performance LEDs
Rubies and emeralds mark the spiritual cities of Mecca, Jerusalem, Amritsar, Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Qufu and Ise
The world’s great rivers and lakes are marked by tiny turquoise pieces
Its frame, depicting space, consists of circa 80,000 pieces of glass
The artist made around a quarter of a million strikes of the hammer to create its pieces
3 kilometres of glass cuts – more than the combined height of the world’s five tallest skyscrapers, or the length of 28 football pitches – went into making its pieces
Ten percent of the proceeds of the sale will go to the 300-pupil Ivor Leigh Memorial School, Sierra Leone
The final jewel – a non-conflict, Kimberley process diamond, the only diamond on the artwork – is to be placed to depict Freetown, Sierra Leone on the opening night, Monday 3rd December, at 7.30pm – RSVP only