Human-shaped, life-sized mirrored sculptures by Rob Mulholland strategically placed within urban, rural or natural surroundings, camouflaged by its very essence or becoming intriguingly conspicuous, trigger the most unexpected reactions from viewers and passers-by.
Mulholland, a Scottish artist based in Stirlingshire, Scotland, creates acrylic glass or mirrored stainless steel sculptures which reflect and blend into their surroundings, thus seeming to address our most intimate feelings and challenging us to question our very essence in its deepest frailty and transitory aspect.
Mirrors have always exerted great attraction on human beings, while also stirring contradictory emotions. Different kinds of beliefs have been prompted by mirrors at different times and among different cultures. They have been regarded as having the power to steal one’s soul whenever looked at; they have been believed to show the manifestation of one’s mind and soul; they have been seen as doors leading to different worlds, to mention just a few of the wide range of capacities assigned to these objects which have, in the course of time, become common in our daily lives.
In Rob Mulholland’s own words, his aim is to explore the deep relationship between who we are as individuals and how we (re)act when faced with others and with our environment. And he does so by creating this visual notion of void, since his sculptures are strongly elusive. This intangibility seems to quite magically assign his work with a very touching quality that goes straight into our hearts, awakening disconcerting feelings. If, on the one hand, viewers can look at his sculptures and merely see the reflection of the place in which they have been set, the next moment, and as they move, they can be looking at their own reflection, as if they have been absorbed by the artwork and its surroundings. This may actually trigger a quite disturbing and unexpected sensation in people.
A particularly interesting situation is seen when a little boy walks past one of Rob Mulholland’s sculptures set in an urban environment and is compelled to stop by it. He first sees a human-shaped figure reflecting the town around it – which is already a strange circumstance since this human-like object seems to be “wearing” the buildings. At a second sight, he realises he is part of the setting, as well as part of the sculpture, since he is also reflected on it. And his reaction is that of testing the whole of that magic moment by moving in front of the sculpture, as well as reaching out and touching the mirrored shape. He is part of the work of art, he is inside it. For a fleeting moment boundaries between reality and fantasy are melted away, dissolved, and he is art himself.
In fact, although in a different way, he becomes part of a magic fairy tale which reminds us of Grimm’s words: “Magic mirror in my hand/ who is the fairest in the land?”