‘I’m fascinated by something that only exists for a moment, then collapses. And I think that can be seen very much in some of my more sculptural works. Things fall back to their very raw material. At a certain moment, they resemble or suggest something. You turn again, and they have just gone back to the matter they once were.’

—Mike Nelson interviewed by Katie Guggenheim at the Hayward Gallery, 2022

Mike Nelson’s work manifests itself in a very physical manner, encouraging us to enter and occupy a work of art. Often his structures are on such a large scale that we can inhabit them, a ploy he uses to encourage empathy or feeling in the viewer, inviting us to understand the work through all the senses. His practice is also very much underpinned by literary and filmic references; he uses the constructed worlds found in these sources to generate spatial structures that in turn suggest new narratives. Many of these narratives focus on belief systems and on the complex myriad of ideas within the structures of the societies evoked in the work.

Nelson’s practice comes from a lineage of artists from the twentieth century working predominantly in what was described as the ‘expanded field’ — including performance, installation and Land Art. His work comments on these genres whilst working ‘within’ them.

The workshop will seek to reflect on and immerse participants in these very particular interests and apply them to the history and landscape of Cornwall. As in previous workshops, the week will include walks, talks, screenings and expeditions.

‘That’s one of the magical aspects of art: the possibility that you might get some sort of sense of one person’s perception of the world in which they exist. That might sound insignificant in a world of billions of people, but actually it’s through that opportunity to step outside your own experience that you can really understand it.’

—Mike Nelson interviewed by Katie Guggenheim at the Hayward Gallery, 2022