The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004
16 May 2014 – 1 March 2015
Throughout his work, Nathan Coley expresses curiosity about how we relate to public spaces and architecture. He is also interested in what we believe. His research informs drawings, photographs, sculptures and videos that often contain words or phrases.
For GENERATION Coley’s work , on loan from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland, The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004 is an installation of sculptures made up of all 286 religious and spiritual buildings listed in the 2004 Edinburgh Yellow Pages phone directory under ‘places of worship’. A mammoth task, it was originally made for a solo exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and took Coley and his assistant four months to produce.
Coley had previously undertaken a similar work with The Lamp of Sacrifice, 161 Places of Worship, Birmingham 2000. On that occasion, Coley made the sculptures over a course of seven weeks in front of visitors to the Ikon Gallery. Coley adopted the idea of an architectural ‘Lamp of Sacrifice’ from Victorian artist and critic John Ruskin (1819–1900) who said, ‘it is not the church we want, but the sacrifice…’. Coley explores Ruskin’s sentiments that buildings and architecture are two separate things – one functional and the other art. Coley strips all religious insignia from the buildings and reconstructs them to scale in cardboard, uniting the buildings as one group or community.
As fewer people go to church and the diversity of different areas shifts, The cardboard models offer a playful and abstract perspective on the buildings. Physically they represent buildings but emotionally they are religious architecture and in equal measure baffle and enlighten people. Nathan Coley doesn’t provide answers but he does inspire those who see his work to ask questions.
Nathan Coley was born in 1967 in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at the Glasgow School Art from 1985 to1989.From 1998 to 2005 he lived and worked in Dundee. In 2007 he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. His work is represented in many international public and private collections
He currently lives and works in Glasgow.