Irish artist Laura Buckley on her Saatchi Gallery installation of the UK’s biggest walk-in kaleidoscope.
Think back to looking into the eye-piece of a kaleidoscope for the first time. Probably as a child, with one eye squeezed tightly shut, peering in wonder at the mirage of dizzying colours. All at once you’re transported to a disorientating wonderland of swirling colours, but once the apparatus is lowered, just like that, the spell is broken.
Now, Laura Buckley is the Galway-born artist who’s bringing that nostalgia back in a big way with the UK’s biggest walk-in kaleidoscope, titled “Fata Morgana,” which will be featured at the Saatchi Gallery Kaleidoscope exhibition.
Visitors will be able to walk through the large-scale hexagonal tunnel, immersing themselves in the experience via mirrored walls, ambient sounds and moving imagery.
We caught up with Laura Buckley and talked about memory, emotional journeys and kaleidoscope-induced euphoria…
How did you get into art?
I loved music, english and science but was drawn to visual art. I loved the solitary intimacy and satisfaction of process and connection within the work and with the viewer.
How would you describe your work?
I work expansively with moving image, sound, light, sculpture and digital print. Working with scanned imagery, my prints feed back into projected videos which when combined with footage from life create highly abstracted environments. Combining footage and audio from life with studio-produced sound, the viewer is taken on a journey through a combination of part intertwining personal, structural, and emotional dynamics.
I also develop percussive loops by editing and repeating ambient sounds. The human voice is layered with synthetic tones, instrumentation and background beats. I am interested in subverting technology in its various forms, pushing it to perform actions, and gesture beyond its design.
How do you want people to feel when they experience your work?
On entering my installations a collective memory is evoked where various of states of mind are played out, from melancholy and anxiety to euphoria.
I became interested in the kaleidoscope as a visual tool when I bought a kid’s make-your-own kit for my daughter in a gallery shop. Its such a basic and magical structural system. I wanted to physically enter it. It’s that miniature fascination thing which was heightened for me perhaps as my daughter was so little. I like to play with and question scale and dimension.
What themes do you explore in this exhibition?
My life feeds directly into my work, so I’m inspired by everything. My work is often about the frustration or galvanisation of communication.
What does Fata Morgana mean [the name of the walk-in kaleidoscope]?
It alludes to a superior mirage. A trick of light over a sea horizon. It questions reality, how we perceive what is at the edge of things.
Was it important to create an immersive experience?
Yes. I began deconstructing interior architectural structures back when I was still painting, cutting holes through walls and so on. I somehow wanted to take the viewer on a separation from reality but in a positive way. Escaping and reaffirming things at the same time.
What experience do you think has changed the way you create art in your life the most?
Definitely becoming a mother. Before that my work was formal and monotone and industrial, questioning function. Having my daughters opened my whole practice allowing colour and emotion in. It’s still ordered and structural, and there is balance. You re-see the world again by experiencing how children comprehend things.
How do you want people to feel when they experience your pieces?
A connection. Less alone.
Kaleidoscope will run at the Saatchi Gallery between 15 March – 5 May. Find out more here