Alastair Mackie’s Fair Copse

All Visual Arts presents Alastair Mackie’s Copse, an instantly appealing piece of formal design, no more and no less

Alastair Mackie’s new and largest installation to date, Copse, fills the blinding white gallery space with a forest of naked trees, each one balancing delicately upon ornate and spindly table legs carved in at their bases.

Instantly pleasing, the Copse components continually judder from the natural to the artificial, from rustic woodland to Ikea. This set of chess pieces reflects, we are told, ‘a transitory state of metamorphosis’, with each tree ‘between what it was and what it will become’ – an elaborate ‘metaphor of mankind’s evolution from atavistic primates to our contemporary consumer driven society’.

Sounds great; but does Copse actually prompt us to deliberate on ‘what it means to be civilised’? Is Mackie really all that deep?  Perhaps in his earlier works, yes, in which he undertook intricate processes of reconstruction – whether that be reconstituting a branch from 200,000 matchsticks, or weaving a cloth of indigestible mouse fur recovered from owl pellets.

The very real pleasure in Copse, however, is altogether simpler – this is an eloquent piece of formal design, highly agreeable to the eye and pleasurable to the touch. Particularly successful is the matrix of criss-crossing wires holding up the woody columns above the viewer’s head, intricately and precisely thought out, in perfect balance between form and functionality.

And all arranged on that tasty polished concrete floor – hmmm, delicious!

Transitions from nature to culture are of course applicable, but with this particular work they must surely be secondary. And what’s wrong with that? Long live the Modernist in us all! If it looks good and feels great… Words/Photo Thomas Keane © 2011 ArtLyst


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