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Indepth Arts News:

"Nathan Coley: A Survey of Work"
2004-05-24 until 2004-07-18
Fruitmarket Gallery
Edinburgh, , UK United Kingdom

Dundee-based Coley (born 1965) is an established international artist whose work examines how the values of a society are reflected in and determined by its built environment. Coley has become known for works of public sculpture in which he actively engages with the people local to the spaces his work inhabits and interrogates. Yet, this is only one part of his practice. The exhibition concentrates on work that brings the built environment inside the gallery, in a range of media that includes sculpture, photography, drawing, video and installation. Showing work made in and about Scotland, as well as historically, geographically and politically resonant urban spaces further afield, the exhibition reveals the often conflicting systems of personal, social, religious and political belief through which we structure the space around us.

The exhibition is curated by gallery director Fiona Bradley and is presented on the occasion of the 30th anniversary and re-branding of The Fruitmarket Gallery.

Committed to showing new work in the context of a coherent art practice, the gallery is delighted that the exhibition presents the first Bloomberg/Fruitmarket Gallery New Commission, The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004. This work consists of four-foot high cardboard models, constructed by Coley, of every place of worship listed in Edinburgh’s Yellow Pages, encompassing a vast geographical area extending over the Forth Bridge into Fife to the North and down to the Borders in the South. A way of mapping and understanding the city, the work offers a definition of what Edinburgh is, from a particular, religiously pluralist perspective.

The exhibition also includes Lockerbie (2003), shown for the first time in Scotland, having previously been seen in Days Like These (2003), the second Tate Triennial of British Art. The work arose from Coley’s stint as unofficial artist in residence at Kamp van Ziest in the Netherlands, the Scottish Court established in 2000 to try the two Libyan former Intelligence Agents charged with the bombing of flight PAN AM 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. It is a precise replica of the witness box, shown together with meticulously drawn copies of press photographs of evidence presented during the trial.

These two works are typical of Nathan Coley’s practice in that they exert a powerful presence in the gallery. In the exhibition, they are joined by other works that similarly seek to lay claim to space both mental and physical. Sometimes these spaces exist in the world, sometimes only in some remembered past or conjectured future. They may be evoked through a sculpture of a real building, an animation of archival photographs or a slide lecture extolling the virtues of home-made pigeon lofts. Wryly illuminating or deeply disturbing, Coley’s work fabricates physical and emotional triggers for urban experience.

Nathan Coley
The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004

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