Charlotte Colbert

Dreamland Sirens, 2023

de PURY Presents 'Dreamland Sirens' by Charlotte Colbert, the award-winning artist and filmmaker’s latest selling exhibition, curated by Simon de Pury, which ran from the 12 – 21st of October 2023 in the iconic Fitzrovia Chapel.

The show includes small and large scale works, from sculpture, to design furniture, costumes, to prints and features a sound collaboration with celebrated film composer, Isobel Waller-Bridge. proceeds from the sales of an edition of works will also be donated to support End Violence Against Women Coalition, with one of the sculptures being brought to life as a wearable art piece by the model and activist Lily Cole.

Colbert works within narrative fictional cinematic filmmaking as well as installations and sculpture. Her works often hover around the worlds of fairy tales and dreams, archetypal, unconscious imagery and create a dialogue with the whispers of alternative realities. In this exhibition, Colbert takes inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, guiding us through the looking glass into an immersive and surrealist exploration of dreamscapes, symbolism, and the mind.

Lending to her fantastical realisations is the concept of Magick which Colbert defines as, “Will versus World—the changing of the world through the power of will” referencing 20th century occultist Aleister Crowley. Colbert investigates, “Which dreams and utopias can we Magick into the world?”

"Imagination has real world consequences. Everything human-made was imagined before being made, that goes from the toothbrush to space-travel. Someone visualised it in their mind and then went about to create it. In some ways we could see our world today as an actualisation of 1980s science fiction dystopias. Would it exist if someone hadn’t imagined it? If tech lords of today hadn’t grown up reading or watching it? We are taught to discard what we imagine as non-consequential fantasy but collective thought and visualisation inform and create the world we live in – politically, socially, economically – we are creatures of narratives and fiction. Dreamland Sirens celebrates the idea of feminine utopias harking back to pre-patriarchal and pre-monotheistic orders. What you think, what you dream, what you imagine has power to change the world. So what utopias can we imagine for ourselves?"
- Charlotte Colbert

Her collection resonates with themes of surrealism, fantasy, and feminism. She transports us through the looking glass, beginning outdoors, in the square with ‘Tutti Fruitti’. Made from painted aluminium, the sculpture drew inspiration from mushrooms and psychedelics – considered by some anthropologists and the Stoned-Ape theory as the missing link between human animal state and the hope of civilisation.

Also featured, is ‘A Taste of Exile’, made from tinted resin and LED lights, a powerful take on the Queen of Hearts and celebration of femininity harking back to utopias of pre-patriarchal and pre-monotheistic orders, and the show piece ‘Dreamland Sirens’, a stainless steel 4-metre-tall sculpture inspired by Alice in Wonderland’s room of tears. The eye, with its symbolic heritage and proximity to the brain, feels like a portal - a bridge between inner and outer. Both sculptures, reinterpreted as wearable art PVC dresses, will be brought to life by performers as they are worn within the space.

Drawing on the title, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Colbert have devised a sound piece played from Mermaid shaped speakers. This collaboration will also be available as a limited-edition vinyl. Isobel has scored a multitude of feature films, including Munich: The Edge of War, The Phantom of the Open, Emma, and the BAFTA winning, and Oscar nominated The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse. For television, her work includes music for Fleabag, Black Mirror, the limited anthology series Roar, and critically acclaimed docu-series The Way Down.

Colbert’s oeuvre is multifaceted as she spans film, sculpture, and installations, whilst engaging with narrative, psychoanalysis, socio-political constructions of gender and identity, and plays with archetypal imagery—dreams and fairy tales—to connect to universal truths. Colbert’s previous artworks have been exhibited at the V&A, Montpellier Contemporain, Basel Art Fair, and Istanbul Art Fair. Colbert is also an acclaimed filmmaker, making her directorial debut in BIFA nominate She Will, starring Alice Krige, Kota Eberhardt, Malcolm McDowell and Rupert Everett. The film won the Golden Leopard for Best First Feature at the Locarno Film Festival, was the New York Times’ Critic’s Choice, and was described in Variety as “A Superb, Sly Horror-Drama Debut Delivering Otherworldly Feminist Vengeance”.