I’ve wanted to write something this artist & his works that I cohabit with, for a over a year now but it’s not as easy an exercise as I thought. I am not an arts essay scholar but on the other hand, I am an arts fan so on that basis I will tell a condensed, personal story with pictures on how I came to enjoy living with some of the wonderful work of Nicolas Collerson.
At the end of November 2008 on a weekend, my partner was away interstate so I was frolicking about and decided to visit a friend in her shop on Enmore Road, Newtown (Sydney Australia). While waiting for the friend to finish serving a customer, I went next door to have a look at a small group art show closing that night in a walk through room an enterprising fringe dweller has made into a gallery.
The first thing I saw, and I don’t even recall the other artists, was a small set of iconoclastic works by Nicolas Collerson. I knew one or more of them would have to come home with me.
On exhibition of Collerson’s works were 2 paintings, 2 wall sculptures and a standing piece on a plinth that looked to me, like a Jesuit but had an octopus for a head & was holding a black bunny:
Octopope by Nicolas Collerson (2008 - approx 32cm tall. ceramic statue, rubber octopus toy & random little plastic rabbit, acrylic & spraypaint enamel. photography by Anne Bentley)
His The Glorious Tentacled Host Rinse Out was the one that had appealed to me immediately – finally someone who isn’t only having a go at humans and their Christianity but also Buddhism. It seems so sacred to white Westerners, even non-believers - ya can’t dump on the Buddha. Well, I do! Stupid prayer flags in the wind, probably made by exploited workers using toxic dyes… but they were a bargain… Lazy praying, I reckon – hang a set of coloured flags and you’ll be right for the next life. And, by the way, do you know the Dali Lama, the latest rock star of religion, does not believe in sex for anything other than procreation and does not agree with homosexuality. At a press conference in June 1997, he commented: "From a Buddhist point of view [lesbian and gay sex]...is generally considered sexual misconduct" 1 ).
Gee, he’s a lot of fun...Nicolas’s work belies my stroppiness – it is delightful and has a clever fun play about it.
The Glorious Tentacled Host Rinse Out by Nicolas Collerson 2008 (photograph by Anne Bentley)
Child rearing with an organised religious aspect can have profound effects on a creative and original thinking mind – especially when the child’s thoughts are contrary to elder’s beliefs. Personally, I am often baffled by people having blind belief in a book written generations after its suggested time and interpreted by ego and (mostly) male power circles.
I don’t have to present any further essay on religion & war until my soapbox crumples under me as I can see a fine illustrative rendition of human-made Christianity on the wall:
Saint Sophia The Blessed Selecta (& detail) by Nicolas Collerson 2008 (Mary statue, cardboard, plastic glow in the dark star, felt tip markers, plastic fly & various plastic army soldiers on MDF board)
Being the art junkie I am and knowing that weekend the only cash on hand was our house rent, I pondered calling the artist to make an offer for some of his work for, oh about 10 minutes, raced home, got the cash & organized to meet Nicolas back at the gallery a couple of hours later that evening.
When I arrived at the designated time, the only person there was a man who didn’t look much like the artist I’d spoken over the phone. It turned out he was another buyer and he’s spoken with the woman who ran the place & said he wanted to buy the works…
Really? I asked, when did you speak with her?
Oh – and this is where a true art junkie shows her worth, But, I said, I’ve already spoken with the artist about some of his works.
Which ones?, he asked
All of them.
This man upon whom I’d already made unfavourable judgment went on to say how he could easily make exactly the same works and probably better. I expected him to finish his spiel with a flourishing flick of hair or his scarf.
The tosser left.
When Nicolas delivered his works - yes, he came by & hand delivered his work to our place on a really hot day, I asked him if he created his work instinctively rather than with a totally mapped out idea as this is how I am seeing his work. He agreed then and recently re-confirmed this saying he is “a bit hesitant in declaring what a work is supposed to be about, I’d rather (the works) be approached like the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)2 in psychology.”
In other words, the viewer tells his or her own story as they see it from before the event of what the image depicts, through to the outcome using only what they see in front of them with no written explanation.
The Warhol as Chthonic Incubus by Nicolas Collerson 2007 (acrylic, felt tip pen, spraypaint on MDF board. photography by Anne Bentley - hanging in our lounge)
Nicolas Collerson is not only a visual artist, he is also well known and respected in Breakcore music circles, having created his own hybrid of Breakcore and Mashup3
Going by the name Maladroit, he is anything but – he’s been creating his own sounds for close to 10 years, starting out in 2001 producing for the now defunct System:Corrupt Collective and has toured numerous times as Maladroit including an extensive tour of Europe including Russia, the Ukraine, Scotland, the UK, Spain and Czech Republic in 2009.
Currently living in Melbourne, Nicolas is considering showing some of his current work in Sydney sometime in the future. I’m hoping for the near future.
3 Experimental Music: Audio Explorations in Australia – Gail Priest - UNSW Press December 2008
all images and text are copyright