Alastair and Fleur Mackie’s sculptural practice is one of contrasts. It is as labour-intensive as it is formally effortless, as grounded in ideas of nature as it is in the intrinsically human struggle to define a role within the environment; it is as intellectually ambitious as it is aesthetically understated. 
Alastair grew up in an agricultural community in Cornwall, UK while Fleur’s childhood was split between Cameroon, France, and the UK. They met at art school in London in the late 90’s. Initially their creative practices were separate, but over time their work has evolved into a natural collaboration. 
In 2011 they moved to live and work in Cornwall, the landscape of which has played a key role in the shaping of their vocabulary. Naturally occurring elements (native metals, wood, sea shells) are meticulously rearranged and transformed in a knowingly quixotic attempt to order life’s primordial chaos.
Each work is something of an enigma, enriched by the loaded associations of its material and the story behind its making. For The Elimination of Non-priorities (2017), Alastair spent eight hours a day for seven days picking up cowries on a Cornish beach. Labour is here performatively presented in archetype: a task repeated again and again over a given period of time. The reward is a bag of cowries, historically the most common form of shell money. Mackie then placed each day’s harvest in the regularly carved cavities of a limestone slab. Together, the resulting seven tablets are redolent of an ancestral counting device – although how it might actually function remains elusive. The alluringly abstract piece prices up a human cost. Nothing is said of the absurdist task it required: there’s no trace of the substantial effort put into sorting seashells from pebbles, nose in the sand, for a fifty six hours. And yet knowing some of this deliberately procedural process gives the piece a palpable depth. The art object escapes the finished product to encompass the cycle that led to its creation.
The Mackie’s operate by reduction; materials are pared down to their core. In their work, process dictates form, no matter how poetic or Romantic the piece’s origin. Their Smoking Mirror project (work in progress) involves collecting a naturally occurring volcanic glass, obsidian, from the edges of a crater, and melting it in an industrial furnace to produce a sheet of architectural glass. Obsidian has been used by various civilizations, including the Aztecs, who believed it gave access to the underworld. The material undergoes a complex transformation process but emerges as itself: from glass to glass.
Likewise, Epitaph (2014)sees a sandstone boulder from the quarry of Hardwick Hall carved into an exact copy of itself, only two millimeters smaller. The raw model and its human-engineered copy are almost identical but for the machined tool-path scaring the latter’s surface. In both cases, what’s in play isn’t the representation of a subject-material, but a “re-presentation” of sources, whether familiar or distant – a call for reassessment.
For Mud Form (2014) they meticulously washed a Richard Long “mud drawing” off the wall of a museum, and compressed it into a cylinder using a custom-made water-filtration device. The sculpture has the disarming simplicity of an archaic artefact. It defies interpretation. Somewhere in the compacted mud, there’s an echo of the celebrated land artist’s River Avon but buried even deeper are traces of the longing to connect to one’s patch of earth, and of the hubris of believing that it can be fashioned to fit our needs.
As often in their sculpture, the starkness of the form grants the object a timelessness that almost obfuscates its absolute contemporaneity. Yet this body of work talks of the here and now. With quiet strength, it reaffirms that, millennia after our arrival, the question of humanity’s place on the planet has lost nothing of its urgency (Coline Milliard).
Both born in 1977, Alastair and Fleur have shown extensively in the UK and internationally, including exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery – London, the Venice Biennale and the Reykjavik Art Museum. They have worked on a number of public commissions and their work is held in collections including The Olbricht Collection – Berlin, the Salsali Private Museum – Dubai, and the Wellcome Collection – London.

Solo Exhibitions
Between The Dog and The Wolf, Copperfield, London, UK
Constellation, Chipping Sodbury, UK (Public Art Commission)
Redivivus, Plymouth, UK (Public Art Commission)
Selected Works, Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
Complex Systems, Gusford, Los Angeles, United States
Multiplicity, All Visual Arts, London, UK
Copse, All Visual Arts, London, UK
I was there, in Arcadia, PAG, London, UK
Mimetes Anon, The Economist Plaza, London, UK
Not Waving but Drowning, The David Roberts Foundation, London, UK
Sticks and Stones, Mark Moore Gallery, Santa Monica, United States
Terror Firma, Max Wigram Gallery, London, UK

Selected Group Exhibitions
Unbounded: Contemporary Art Practices in Cornwall, Eden Project, UK
Art Brussels, Copperfield, Brussels, Belgium
Without a label, I feel free, Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Germany
Art Brussels, Copperfield / Division of Labour, Brussels, Belgium
Formen der Nature, Museum Villa Rot, Germany
Doing Identity, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany
Internal Nebular, Haarlem Artspace, Wirksworth, UK
ARK, Chester Cathedral, UK
Pure Nature Art. Natural Materials in Contemporary Art, Museum Kunst der Westküste, Germany
450 Year Anniversary of the collection at Ambras Castle, Innsbruck, Austria
Proof of Life, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art, Germany
Force of Nature, The Art Pavilion, London, UK
Abu Dhabi Art, Paul Stolper Gallery, UAE
I Prefer Life, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art, Germany
Art Brussels, Copperfield / Division of Labour, Brussels, Belgium
Force of Nature, Galerie Valérie Bach, Brussels, Belgium
Forever, Bubox, Kortrijk, Belgium
Works on Paper and Wood, Galerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna, Austria
Empty Rooms – The Beauty of Emptiness, Museum Kunst der Westküste, Germany
6 month sabbatical
Manchester Contemporary, Copperfield Gallery, Manchester, UK
Shared, Somerset House, London, UK
Here today…, The Old Sorting Office, London, UK
What Marcel Duchamp Taught Me, FAS, London, UK
Alchemy, Nest, The Hague, Netherlands
Additions of the present, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany
Building Site, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, UK
Home – The Crisis Commission, The Strand Gallery, London, UK
Obsessive Compulsive Order, Copperfield Gallery, London, UK
Art and Alchemy – The Mystery of Transformation, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany
Glasstress: White Light / White Heat, The Wallace Collection, London, UK
The Art of Chess, Next Level Gallery, Paris, France
Habitat, Barnwell Park, Northamptonshire, UK
Glasstress: White Light / White Heat, Palazzo Cavalli, Venice, Italy
Paper Vernacular: Drawings and Constructions, Cutlog, New York, United States
Wonderful – Humboldt, Krokodil & Polke, Me Collectors Room, Berlin, Germany
Metamorphoses – The Transformation of Being, 33 Portland Place, London, UK
Intersections – Science in Contemporary Art, Weizman Institute of Science, Israel
The Art of Chess, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Everywhere and Nowhere, Reydan Weiss Collection, Villa Jauss, Oberstdorf, Germany
Through the Looking Glass, Me Collectors Room, Berlin, Germany
Memories of the Future, La Maison Rouge, Paris, France
Restless Nature, Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn, Cornwall, UK
House of Beasts, Attingham Park, Shropshire, UK
Polemically Small, Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles, United States
Identity Theft, Mimmo Scognamiglio Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy
Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures, All Visual Arts, 33 Portland Place, London, UK
Locus Solus, Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece
Living in Evolution – Busan Biennale, Busan Museum of Modern Art, South Korea
Crucible, Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, UK
Lust for Life and Dance of Death: Works from The Olbricht Collection, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria
Passion Fruits, Me Collectors Room, Berlin, Germany
Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, United States
The Art of Chess, Dox Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, Czech Republic
Wonderland, Assab One, Milan, Italy
The Age of the Marvellous, All Visual Arts, One Marylebone, London, UK
Distortion, Gervasuti Foundation, Venice, Italy
The Art of Chess, Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland
Still life, still, T1&2 Gallery, London, UK
The Avatar of Sacred Discontent, 9 Hillgate Street, London, UK
Nature and Society // Parallel Lines, Ethnographic Museum, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Says the Junk in the Yard, Flowers East, London, UK
Conflict, 20 – 21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, UK
Obstacle – New UK Sculpture, Spectacle, Birmingham, UK
ARTfutures, Bloomberg Space, London, UK
Waste & the Lost World: Memento Mori, Adventure Ecology HQ, London, UK
Houses in motion, Fieldgate Gallery, London, UK
Panpoticon, Bearspace, London, UK
If you go down to the woods today, Rockwell, London, UK
Selected Sculpture, Max Wigram Gallery, London, UK
New Blood, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Esoterica, Ibid Projects, London, UK
Born, Cry, Shit, Fuck, Die, Rockwell, London, UK

Photo credits Tessa Angus, Ian Stuart, Artur Tixiliski, Richard McDonough. Web design by Karl Mackie

Images on this website are the property of Alastair and Fleur Mackie. You may download material from the website for personal and non commercial use only as long as images are credited back to Alastair and Fleur Mackie. Contact us if you wish to obtain a high-res reproduction of an image.