Mat Collishaw lets us into his studio as his latest artworks - mutant, syphilitic flowers, and a depiction of hell, rendered as a 3D zoetrope - start to take shape.
First I start making the mood board, so I’ll take lots of pictures of the kind of things that I’m interested in and print them all out, and then get them up here; and then the project kind of slowly starts taking some kind of form, and then I’ll start making something and printing the pictures out and putting them up here so I can reflect on them.
This one is at the stage where the actual project, which was the film, has been done, but I’ve started to make these 3D lenticular images, so it’s trying to tease out some other kind of form that these flowers could take. And I’m also making some wax version of the same flowers.
So first I get some modelling mesh like this and make it into a shape, and then we drip and pour wax onto it to give it more of a rigidity, and then start adding bits of colour so that the flower looks like it’s actually contracted a disease of some kind, preferably a sexual disease such as syphilis, which gives it a kind of repulsion to contrast with sexual allure. We’ve got little wires inside here which simulate certain veins. When there’s light behind it, the flower becomes translucent. Then these flowers will go onto these metal armatures here, and then certain objects of post-industrial decay are going to be added at the bottom for me to indicate that these things could have become certain mutant species that have grown out of this toxic wasteland.
A lot of the work I’m taking is from nature. Even if I’m working on things on computer programmes, which is a lot, generally it all comes back to actually studying nature. So I’ll have things like this little bat here, which got quite a freakish to it. Again, I might be taking something like the translucency of the wing, or the way that the feathers actually meet the wing there.
There’s a project that I’m developing for Stanford University, and it’s a large zoetrope, which is a kind of depiction of Hell. So it’s like the kind of seven circles of Hell, as a modern 3D zoetrope.
These are just some of the books, art books and other books, on kind of magic and the supernatural. The illustrated Marquis de Sade. General things that I’ll use for mythology, Voodoo, things that I’ll use for reference and ideas that I’m looking for, really.
The basement: this is just good for storage and tools, that kind of stuff.
These are all bits of junk – old cameras and just funny little optical toys. I get bored very easily, so I like to be shifting disciplines, and often I have, like, two, three or four different things going on at the same time. So I’ve been making a 3D picture while making some wax models, while I’m doing some painting, and making a film – something that you see in one process, you might be able to use in a different one. I don’t particularly just want to get locked into one way of making things. I find it too dull.
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