‘The Tree That Blinked’ by Karel Bata

A very accessible and popular art installation.

This was first shown at Gallery 286 in London as part of a self-portrait exhibition. Public reaction has since led me down some more interesting avenues. Viewers had referenced childhood stories of myths and experiences regarding mysterious woodlands and their strange creatures. I took these on board, and the piece has grown exploring these ideas.

A video of the first presentation at Gallery 286, with audience feedback, is here: vimeo.com/81039240

Taking this to Singapore was an unfogettable experience. What a place! And what lovely people. I urge everyone to go there. But maybe not at the same time…

The video.

My choice of music came from my own childhood. We didn’t have much money, and for a while our record collection was four 78 vinyls: ‘You ought to have a wife’ by the Beverly Sisters; ‘Somebody stole my gal’ by Johnny Ray; an evangelical record gifted by a Jehovah’s Witness cousin; and Harry Hall’s ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’. Looking back, they seem to have defined something in me at an early age. After all, isn’t all life in those four records – marriage, loss, religion, and fantasy? I played the latter endlessly, staging sections with my dog-eared teddies (now sadly long gone). So, when it came to choosing music that touched upon childhood mythologies, that record was an obvious choice.

The video was shot using the Sony FS5 with a Nikon 35mm f1.4 lens paired with a Metabones Speedboster giving me f0.9. I needed that to be able to see in the dark!

Many thanks to the models Jonathan Ross (who also runs Gallery 286). Katie Bailey, Peggy Vance, Laurence Wood, and Larysa Kwapisz. HUGE thanks to Chris and the Showtec team in Singapore. And immeasurable gratitude to Christie, May, Farhana, Cindy and the rest of the team in Singapore who made it possible. I will love you forever.

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