Mat Collishaw's Visions Of Piety And Pleasure

Mat Collishaw

Mat Collishaw has 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 draw 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 will be transformed by Collishaw’s immersive and captivating installations. The Banqueting House is the site for a major new 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. 

A newly commissioned film of Seria Ludo is available to view here.

Serenely stationed at the edge of the garden’s Moon Ponds, the Temple of Piety will be the setting for a more tranquil work, The Pineal Eye. Echoing the circulat 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 reveal an explosion of tension, with themes that plumb into the follies' principles of pleasure and piety.

Collishaw’s work can also be seen as part of A Weed is a Plant out of Place, which explores the intersection between art and science. Curated by Allegra Pesenti, the exhibition explores the interpretation of weeds within a socio-historical context and includes examples of eighteenth century botanical manuscripts alongside contemporary works, including Collishaw’s Whispering Weeds.

A Weed is a Plant out of Place is at Lismore Castle Arts, Co. Waterford, Ireland from 3 April - 30 September 2016

Fountains Relief as part of folly! is at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire from 23 April - 30 October 2016

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