MAT COLLISHAW AT LAKESIDE ARTS
Rachel reflects on her experience attending a lecture by artist Mat Collishaw and previewing his exhibition at Lakeside Arts.
Push aside a thick, black curtain, step into near-complete darkness and turn a corner to suddenly find yourself in the presence of a truly stunning illusion – Albion (2017). An icy, crystal-like oak hovers gently at the end of the room. Simultaneously strong yet spectral, Albion is a vision of natural yet technical beauty.
Against a background of black, its ghostly trunk and wide-reaching canopy of nerve-like branches stand above a reflection of its own image. Welcome to the first room of Mat Collishaw’s latest exhibition at Lakeside Arts.
This chalky apparition was created by laser scanning Major Oak, the biggest oak tree in Britain. Rooted in Sherwood Forest for over 800 years, efforts have been made since the Victorian era to prolong its lifespan by supporting its stretching, sheltering limbs with scaffolding. Held up so stiffly, it’s hard to perceive any movement during the tree’s 33-minute rotation.
"AS COLLISHAW DETAILS IN THE LECTURE, MANY OF HIS WORKS COMPRISE “A TIME ELEMENT AND A SPACE ELEMENT” – THIS EXHIBITION CHANGES THE RIGID “STOP AND LOOK” WAY WE OFTEN INTERACT WITH ART.
This oak, despite often being used as a symbol for unfaltering strength, thus becomes a sad metaphor in Collishaw’s Albion: ‘it becomes a portrait of England – this mythical idea that everyone wants to believe in, which is perhaps something we should let go’. Using the same projection technology that was used in 19th century theatres to create ghostly effects in plays, Collishaw sheds light on the harsh reality of human obstinance that props up a tree like a puppet and forbids its death in the name of nostalgia or romanticism.
“It’s a myth,” Collishaw tells us in the pre-exhibition lecture. “It’s something that’s been devised.”
April 5, 2020