It’s this mixture of old and new technology to showcase nature that can be found throughout the artist’s technically and visually impressive exhibition at Kew Gardens. This confluence is visible in works where he’s recreated Albrecht Dürer’s 16th-century watercolours as digital works where stems and leaves sway in a gentle breeze, in one case so subtly that it could easily be missed and mistaken for a work on paper.
The largest work in the show is a projection of a skeletal outline of a massive tree. It depicts the Major Oak, an over-800-year-old tree that can be found in Sherwood Forest. These days it needs an elaborate scaffold to keep it upright and naming the work Albion means visitors will likely see it as an allegory for post-Brexit Britain – an old behemoth that’s just about holding it together.
The mash-up of technology and the natural world is visible in every work, including a digital non-fungible token (NFT) piece that sees digital flowers based on tulips bloom – referencing how tulip mania created the first known speculative market bubble and crash in the Dutch Golden Age, and it’s hard not to see NFTs as potentially the modern-day equivalent of tulips.
One of the smaller works shows a film of The National Gallery overgrown with vegetation, and there’s a purposeful irony in using technology to showcase a world where technology may have ceased to exist. It’s the debate we’re all wrestling with: will technology be the saviour or our destroyer? Will it bring us closer to nature as with these works or will it scrub plant life from the Earth entirely? Mat Collishaw’s works draw attention to these big questions about the future in a way that’s both thought-provoking and eerily beautiful.
All images copyright Mat Collishaw. First and second image courtesy Kew Gardens, third image MONA Tasmania.
|What||Mat Collishaw: Petrichor, Kew Gardens, review|
|Where||Kew Gardens, Kew, Richmond, , Surrey, TW9 3AB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Kew Gardens (underground)|
20 Oct 23 – 07 Apr 24, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|