Richard Mathieson

Propagation

2006
sandcast bronze, stainless steel
tallest sculpture 3740 x 400 x 400mm

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The attention to detail and the technical expertise in Richard Mathieson's Propagation is intense. Each plant is made up of thirty separate castings in bronze which are then necklaced onto a stainless steel rod. This is a technique and style that has characterized Mathieson’s work over recent years. In the broader spectrum it is a development out of his earlier medallion work. Mathieson exhibited with the Medallion Group for seven years before turning to larger works. As with the individual units in Propagation, medallions are geometric and modular. They can also be made in multiples. In Propagation these aspects are combined to create the suggestion of a growth pattern.

Propagation is the latest in a series of Mathieson’s works on the theme of botanical study and scientific research. The intermarriage of the exotic and the indigenous, the effect of such intervention in nature and the ethical issues it raises are all ideas that these works ask to be considered. In 2005 Mathieson posed such questions with his work at Growth Industry, the exhibition he curated for the Auckland Regional Council’s Botanic Garden. There he presented his work as an ‘introduced species’ imposed on a ‘constructed’ landscape. Splendidly isolated and individual it raised the immediate question ‘what’s that doing here?’ Propagation engenders the same response in its more subtle placement at Brick Bay. Not only does it address issues of interventions in nature, it also asks questions about the nature of art, the role of art, its settings and its purpose.

Richard Mathieson was trained in the traditional methods of sculpture at Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts when Greer Twiss and Christine Hellyar led the Sculpture Department. Since leaving art school he has worked in a variety of media and across a range of scale that showcases the strength and the delicacy of the art of sculpture.
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