Mat Collishaw created two striking new installations for the follies in Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal - a National Trust World Heritage Site in Yorkshire. A co-commission between the Trust and Blain|Southern, the works drew upon the history of the buildings, creating optical illusions that echo ghosts of the follies past.
Situated in the 18th century landscape surrounding the abbey, the follies were transformed by Collishaw’s installations. The Banqueting House was the site for a 3D zoetrope titled Seria Ludo. The work is a glowing, strobe lit chandelier, covered with 186 carousing Lilliputian figures, conjuring up a scene of excitement and debauchery as complex engineering rouses a spiralling dervish of dissolute behaviour.
Serenely stationed at the edge of the garden’s Moon Ponds, the Temple of Piety was the setting for a more tranquil work, The Pineal Eye. Echoing the circular forms of the ponds outside, the mirrored domes conjure up an ethereal mirage of the Roman depiction of piety; a daughter feeding her imprisoned father from her breast - an illusion which mirrors the Georgian relief located on the rear Temple wall.
The canals, ponds and cascade offer pictorial beauty and also function as hydraulic balancing systems for the river Skell that flows through Fountains Abbey. Inspired by this form of release both of Collishaw's works; Seria Ludo and The Pineal Eye revealed an explosion of tension, with themes that plumb into the follies' principles of pleasure and piety.