Folly! It’s the name of Mat Collishaw’s exhibit in the ornamental setting at Fountain’s Abbey in Yorkshire, but the artwork is certainly anything but, featuring two very different installations, gaining us access to Seria Ludo in the Banqueting House—which was built in the seventeenth century for ribaldry and exactly what the name would entail—and The Pineal Eye mirror structure sitting near the edge of the water by the Temple of Piety. Quite simply, there’s a lot going on here—both loud and quiet.
This is Collishaw’s first solo show, situated in a landscape that can only be described as lovely and peaceful—and certainly an almost comical geography for Seria Ludo which although silent, certainly invokes the idea of boisterous goings on at the site of the ancient monastery. With a world of 3D printed zoetropes predominantly figured in Seria Ludo, the exhibit both delights and fascinates, despite the fact that these tiny characters are chomping down on turkey legs, greedy as can be, drinking to their hearts’ content—and even peeing away, right in front of you. Although you are really seeing a spinning chandelier with the main part of the exhibit—fat drunken babies—perched upon it, it seems as if it were the reverse as you watch as 18 frames strobe exactly in sequence.
Indeed this is the ‘wild side of the garden,’ brought back to life once again, although in miniature form, as Collishaw’s Lilliputian partiers carouse. Seria Ludo is reminiscent of a bawdy and elitist drinking club from the 18th century, and the name’s meaning is a bit inspiring actually, translated to ‘looking at serious matters in a light hearted way.’
The glowing chandelier is made of acrylic and CNC cut parts as well as some 3D printed accentuations, along with the unforgettable ‘babies.’ The project took three or four months of work before they actually put the whole scene into motion, according to the team who helped to put bring it all together.
“I thought making a 3D zoetrope would be a good idea because of the sense of being caught up in things and being part of this whole festival of indulgence,” explains Collishaw, whose incredible skill with zoetropes has caught our eye before.
“I think people have always been kind of drawn to little scenes that are kind of illicit in a way,” says Collishaw in the video below as he shows off some of the images and paintings he used as reference for his work. “Because you’re kind of a voyeur, but you’re being given special access to a scene that actually happens behind closed doors.”
In all there are 186 figures—even a swinging monkey—featured in a frenzy of debaucherous consuming, dancing, and of course—fighting. See the videos below for a comprehensive look at the zoetrope and the detail of the chandelier.
When you’ve tired of the party and need to nurse your hangover with some meditation, Collishaw provides meditation over at the Temple of Piety which is set near the grounds’ Moon Ponds. Serene and silent, The Pineal Eye is composed of two parabolic mirrors, with the reflective surface actually making a visual effect showing us the Roman depiction of piety with the Grecian daughter allowing her father to nurse from her breast.
This artwork came about through years of inspiration as Collishaw had a parabolic mirror design just sitting on his desk and he’d always wanted to work with the concept and bring it to fruition as a real work. He found the Temple of Piety and the statue of Neptune as a similar motif, offering up the perfect locale for the circular mirror and the levitating image.
“These works will hopefully seduce viewers in a way that is similar to the principles of pleasure and piety; the wild intoxicating lust for life of the Dionysian and the calm contemplation of forms typical of the Apollonian,” said Collishaw. “Both works are optical illusions and reflect on the idea that these states are in a sense illusory; ideas but not actualities, mental states that you can adopt and become absorbed by.
“Although only bricks and mortar, these buildings symbolize psychological characteristics and function as stage sets for states of merriment and reflection.”
While this is his first solo event, Collishaw has participated in exhibits all around the world, with his work being described as ‘at once beautiful and repellent.’
“We know that many of our visitors reach only as far as Fountains Abbey and hope that these compelling new installations will encourage them to go a little further into our acres of elegant landscape with its glorious water garden, follies and temples,” said Aimee Rawson, Marketing & Design Manager for Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal. “That we have been able to work with an artist of Mat’s caliber and standing is a first for us and I hope that our visitors enjoy experiencing our follies through his incredibly illuminating lens.”
The installations at Fountains Abbey will be on display through October of this year as the second part of a three-year art program between Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. Collishaw’s installation is part of the ‘Trust New Art’ scheme, which is a partnership between the Trust and Arts Council England. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Zoetrope forum over at 3DPB.com.