Renaissance Woman

Keira Knightley Stars in Stuart Pearson Wright's "Maze"

In a wig and ruff fit for a queen, Keira Knightley joins artist Stuart Pearson Wright in Maze, a short film that wryly sends up the bodice-ripping breathlessness of much period drama. “The use of the Elizabethan period was a way of lulling the audience into a sense of the familiar, which then made it possible to thwart those expectations,” explains the artist of this cinematic project, shot at Longleat House in Wiltshire, UK.  As a non-commercial film, Maze is a first for Knightley, who is better known as the feisty heroine of blockbusters including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Duchess and King Arthur. In Maze she appears alongside Pearson Wright as the artist’s embattled lover, with each character frantically searching for the other within a leafy labyrinth—to no avail. While in this one-minute clip the two protagonists appear side by side, in the installation at Pearson Wright’s current show at Riflemakers in London, the piece consists of two opposing projections following the characters’ individual journeys, forcing the viewer to choose between, as the artist puts it, “romantic artist or fickle muse, earnest male or inconstant female.” Pearson Wright, by his own admission, is often drawn to actors: he met Knightley through mutual friend Rosamund Pike and designed the cover of David Thewlis’s 2008 novel, The Late Hector Kipling. He also has longstanding thespian leanings himself, having appeared in amateur dramatics groups throughout his youth––an interest that informs his paintings, which often feature him embodying various archetypal characters. “It comes very naturally to me just to begin performing,” he says.
 

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