Fall down the rabbit hole into Charlotte Colbert’s Frieze Week dreamland

‘Dreamland Sirens’, a London exhibition from Charlotte Colbert, is curated by Simon de Pury and LA-based gallery UTA Artist Space

Charlotte Colbert ‘Dreamland Sirens’ exhibition, pink artworks
(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, a new London exhibition from multidisciplinary artist Charlotte Colbert heads down the rabbit hole, inviting us to become aware of what we dream and visualise collectively. Taking place during Frieze London 2023, the exhibition ‘Dreamland Sirens’, curated by Simon de Pury and LA-based gallery UTA Artist Space, is in the Grade II-listed Fitzrovia Chapel, an atmospheric space that shimmers with hundreds of golden stars and intricate mosaics.

On show are two 4m-high sculptures. A large-scale, pink, uterus-shaped sculpture, entitled A Taste of Exile, gives a tongue-in-cheek nod to Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts, while a monumental crying blue eye takes us through the looking-glass and into our dreams. Colbert’s work, which spans film, sculpture and installations, often deals with fairytales and dreams, creating a dialogue with the whispers of alternative realities. Guiding us through the looking-glass into an immersive and surrealist exploration of dreamscapes, symbolism and the mind, Colbert asks, ‘Which dreams and utopias can we magick into the world?’

pink artwork by Charlotte Colbert

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

The exhibition is set to a striking soundtrack by composer Isobel Waller-Bridge, played through mermaid-shaped speakers. ‘Diving into “Dreamland Sirens” with Charlotte has been a spectacular adventure,’ says Waller-Bridge. ‘I have always admired Charlotte’s art, so to be invited to collaborate with her was an honour. The way that Charlotte reads the world is completely unique, and responding to her work with my music has drawn me into new realms. I love the result, and I think that what we have created together reflects our mutual and deepest love of surrealism, and the rabbit hole.’

Remarks Colbert, ‘The exhibition takes place in the most magical location. A half-forgotten, mosaic-covered, fairytale-like chapel, tucked away from Oxford Street. So it had that immersive feeling from the get-go and my practice I work in different mediums so it felt natural to bring sculpture, music and writing together. 

'The show was born out of ruminations with Simon and Zuzanna about Alice in Wonderland and this weird obsessive feeling I have that we seem to be living in or working towards the dystopias science-fiction writers penned in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. As if today’s powerful visionaries who control tech and new media were creating what they read about and were inspired by as children: driverless cars, talking machines (the creator of Alexa and Siri actually said that is how he had the idea, he had read a book as a kid about a talking machine), even the aesthetic of it all has a sort of Ballard twist.' 

Adds de Pury: 'What drew me to the work of Charlotte Colbert is that she is so multifaceted and not a one-trick pony as so many artists are. She applies her talent to a multiplicity of media from ceramics to sculpture, furniture, video and cinema.'

pink artworks

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

'Psychoanalysis has always found its visual translation in surrealism,' Colbert adds. 'I guess surrealism is about challenging accepted reality by unexpected things being in unexpected places or in unexpected sizes.'

Colbert’s work has been exhibited at the V&A, Montpellier Contemporain, and the Basel and Istanbul art fairs. Colbert is also an acclaimed filmmaker, making her directorial debut in the psychological horror She Will (2021), which won the Golden Leopard for best debut at the Locarno Film Festival.

Dreamland Sirens runs from 11-21 October 2023 at the Fitzrovia Chapel, 2 Pearson Square, London W1

charlottecolbert.com, utaartistspace.com, isobelwaller-bridge.com, fitzroviachapel.org


Anne Soward joined the Wallpaper* team as Production Editor back in 2005, fresh from a three-year stint working in Sydney at Vogue Entertaining & Travel. She prepares all content for print to ensure every story adheres to Wallpaper’s superlative editorial standards. When not dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, she dreams about real estate.