Tate Britain

Art Now Sophie Michael: Trip (the light fantastic) 11 July 2016 – 30 October 2016

Sophie Michael Chapters One to Five 2012 Courtesy of Sophie Michael, Seventeen Gallery © Sophie Michael 

Delve into artist-filmmaker Michael's exploration of our relationship to the past

Sophie Michael is a London-based artist-filmmaker who creates 16mm films that examine ideas around nostalgia and innocence.

Sophie Michael The Watershow Extravaganza 2016 Courtesy of Sophie Michael, Seventeen Gallery © Sophie Michael​

Sophie Michael

The Watershow Extravaganza 2016

Courtesy of Sophie Michael, Seventeen Gallery

© Sophie Michael​

​Sophie Michael 99 Clerkenwell Road 2010 Courtesy of Sophie Michael, Seventeen Gallery © Sophie Michael

​Sophie Michael

99 Clerkenwell Road 2010

Courtesy of Sophie Michael, Seventeen Gallery

© Sophie Michael

Her work with the moving image draws on early experimental filmmaking and mid-twentieth century design to question our relationship to the past through the lens of the present.

99 Clerkenwell Road (2010)

16mm film, colour, silent, 8 min

This early silent 16mm film revisits the work of German abstract animation filmmaker Oskar Fischinger (1900–67). Shot at night in an empty shop, the semi-abstract film captures the simplicity of light and colour in motion. Moving the camera almost blindly in the space, and using the analogue technique of multiple exposure, Michael intermittently reveals the architectural space and outside urban elements, in a constant back and forth between abstraction and reality.

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Sophie Michael 
99 Clerkenwell Road, 2010 
Courtesy of Sophie Michael, Seventeen Gallery 
© Sophie Michael

Chapters One to Five (2012)

16mm film, colour/sound, 15 min

This is the third film in the Astrid series 2010–14, made with the young Astrid Everall over the ages of seven to eleven. Astrid responds to different sets that re-construct interiors from 1950s Charles and Ray Eames designs to 1970s home improvement magazines. It takes inspiration from educational materials and re-enacts demonstration films made at that time, depicting and promoting an idealistic lifestyle. Indulging in a sense of nostalgia, in a similar way to a piece of repro-furniture which imitates a past style, Michael stages a contemporary projection of lost times and youth.

The Watershow Extravaganza (2016)

16mm film, colour/sound, 10 min

The Watershow Extravaganza is an attraction at Watermouth Castle in North Devon, built for the 1951 Festival of Britain before being installed in the theme park in the 1980s. The show choreographs water and coloured light to music played by a 1920’s mechanical organ. Using in-camera editing techniques in her film, Michael re-weaves together the elements of the performance by superimposing imagery. Creating a secondary layer of synaesthesia between light and sound, she evokes early 20th century experiments with colour organs. Michael continuously explores the contradiction of our contemporary responses to the past, and how vanished eras can be at once fascinating, outdated and slippery.

About Art Now

Art Now is a series of exhibitions at Tate Britain focusing on new and recent work by emerging artists. Since the early 1990s, Art Now has recognised talent at its outset and provided a launching platform for artists who went on to become established figures in the British and international art scene.


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