I visited The Asset Strippers by Mike Nelson at Tate Britain.
'Mike Nelson has transformed the heart of Tate Britain into somewhere between a sculpture court and an asset strippers’ warehouse, carefully selecting objects from a past world, the post-war Britain that framed his childhood. Nelson’s project has been informed by the Duveen Galleries’ origins as the first purpose-built sculpture galleries in England, intended to rival the sculpture court at the British Museum and the V&A’s cast room, turning the neo-classical galleries into a warehouse of monuments to a lost era and the vision of society it represented.'
I was contacted by Heloise Laurie who is writing her PhD at Paris University. She asked for my recollections my experience of an earlier exhibition by Mike Nelson entitled 'The Coral Reef', which I had seen back in 2011.
Do you remember how you first heard about this work and what led you to visit it?
I first heard about Mike Nelson and his work back in 1999 when was I studying Fine Art in Portsmouth University, UK between 1997-2000. As part of the course, practicing artists would visit our University each week to talk about themselves and their work. One of those artists was Mike Nelson. During his artists talk he talked about his early career, inspirations and his work- including installations he had been working on. One in particular was Agent Dickson at The Red Star Hotel- an installation at Hales Gallery, London 1995. It was a kind of space shuttle built from stacked boxes; inside of which was a 'cabin' a small cramped room with a hammock, a painting, some crash helmets, tin post and pans, books. The visual impact of this work - in a red-lit room made quite an impression on me. His discussed his work- which blended fact and fiction- along with slides. It really inspired me - so I actively sought out his work. I saw The Coral Reef for the first time at Matt's Gallery, London back in 2000. At that time Matts Gallery was located on Copperfield Road, London. I think it was the first time The Coral Reef was exhibited. I saw a listing for the exhibition in Time Out. It was the first time I had visited Matt's Gallery also.
According to your recollection, how long was your visit of " The Coral Reef " ?
I visited the gallery on my own and I remember vividly the work and I wondered about The Coral Reef for several hours.
Were there many people that day in the artwork? Did you have to wait to enter or did you feel that you could not go at your own pace inside the work?
When I visited The Coral Reef installation at that time, in the afternoon -the installation was empty! I was fully immersed in the work, on my own, allowed to wonder about the rooms freely. At that time Mike Nelson was not as well known as he has now become.
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