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Britart's best-kept secret tells Guy Kennaway why he'd sooner chase fairies than fame By rights, Mat Collishaw should be a household name.
Collishaw leads us into a shabby building and we walk through a deserted studio with dangling brown paper patterns and mannequins bristling with pins.'This is [fashion designer] Jonathan Saunders's studio,' he says. Young models in here stripping off all day long.'We go through a door in a partition and are suddenly in Matworld, where Victorian mahogany furniture and antique objets d'art nestle beside vintage porn and antique children's books.Not things that you could look at in a lazy or uncommitted way.'This gave rise to a sequence of work - much of which can be seen in the new book - featuring, among other things, disabled children, women using sanitary towels, bestiality and bondage.'People started writing about how offensive it was,' he complains, managing to sound surprised and hurt. Purely offensive images give you an immediate fix,' he mimes injecting his arm, 'but then that's it.Damien Hirst put it to me like this: 'We all have to go to the edge sometimes to see what it's like, to know that it's there.Mat's the kind of artist that sits at the bottom of the pit looking up at all those falling in.'A couple of hours later we're on the way to Collishaw's studio, where he's having his photo taken for this piece.
Born in Nottinghamshire 42 years ago, Collishaw was raised as a Christadelphian: no church, no Christmas, no television.'My parents said to me and my brother that Christmas was a pagan festival being disguised as Christianity,' he says.