Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment

Mike Marshall At Union Gallery, 57 Ewer Street, London SE1, until 31 March

Mike Marshall returns time and again to the process of perception itself, attempting to confound our habitual responses, and in the process is developing one of the most sophisticated landscape visions in contemporary British art.

This show of photography, fi lm and video is his 10th UK outing in the last seven years.

Marshall's work takes in many different locations and topographies; this latest exhibition stems largely from material gathered in India.

While at first sight the work seems to have a documentary character, its status as a record of place is in fact much more complex, for Marshall takes the original location more as a starting point and source of sensory raw material.

Four still images punctuate the visitor's passage between three mesmeric time-based media works. The photography depicts diverse landscape scenes rendered in equally diverse print techniques, from a photoetching of forest canopy and breakers called Atlantic Beach, to a hand-coloured image of a rubble pile entitled simply Spoil.

The video The Thunder and Lightning presents a tropical storm of great magnitude, as experienced from a veranda surrounded by jungle. Only the lightning itself illuminates the scene, which is thus revealed in fragments. We await the next exposure of the jungle night, and discover each time that the camera has shifted in its search: one strike reveals a gigantic tropical blossom, another reveals tree-top silhouettes, another catches the camera in panning motion across undergrowth. The sound of the piece matches this level of immersion, with thunderclaps vibrating the gallery floor, and a perpetual, torrential rain so present in the space that the gallery itself seems to be inundated.

This merging of 'locations' - of work and gallery - is a particular feature of the show.

Union occupies railway arches between Waterloo and Cannon Street stations, and the question for Marshall was how to neutralise or make productive the sound of rail traffic passing overhead.

The Thunder and Lightning simply absorbs the noise of trains, allowing it to swell its own 'score' without disruption.

The play of gallery context and work in the case of the 16mm film Birdcatcher is subtler still.

Birdcatcher presents a slow and seamless, rig-mounted sweep of jungle floor, but its footage is actually in slow reverse.

Foliage twitches strangely beneath the reverse flow of wind as a micro-landscape is revealed, accompanied by an electronically constructed 'score' of wind, insect chatter and birdsong.

Within the gallery, what intrigues Marshall is how viewers might find a correspondence between the mechanical, linear movement of the camera and the sound and sensation of trains in their own linear passage. Behind his work lies this ambition to stir different states of sensory awareness. This is a spatial concern - not limited to the landscape he depicts but deeply involved with the way that it's received.

Robin Wilson writes on architecture, art and landscape

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.