Nathaniel Mellors' practice sees an interest in mainstream entertainment, mediation and immersion, and more specifically, entertainment in relation to gallery-based art. Writing and editing his own music and scripts, Mellors has drawn on the work of others such as critical entertainers and artists including Jean-Luc Godard, Spike Milligan, Wyndham Lewis and Throbbing Gristle. All of his films have original, coherent and structured plots at their core that gradually disintegrate and unravel over time.
The mythical construct if the soul singer Prince Lightning was the basis of a major body of work that Nat produced while working his first residency at Grizedale. The character was largely inspired by Grizedale director Adam Sutherland's extensive collection of rare soul records, and played on an incongruous collision of black American culture and the English countryside.
Prince Lightning is a tragic-comic product of the aspirational relationship that the UK has with the US and that rural areas have with urban centres and the hollowness and dislocation of the character is a product of the misreadings between these cultures. The project also drew on a tradition amongst black performers to appropriate European symbols power and control, for instance in the use of titles such as Earl, Duke or King.
Nathaniel produced an album of Prince Lightning's music called 'The Long Scratch', which sampled tracks from Adam's collection as well as Nathaniel's own vocal arrangements, together with 'natural' sounds such as sticks or rocks hitting rocks.
A series of photographs show the Prince in iconic Lake District locations and an installation consisting of a wooden walled cruciform space filled with straw provided a context in which the images and sound works were shown. The installation toured venues in the north of Britain, including The Changing Room, Stirling; The Turnpike Gallery, Leigh and the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal.
The show went down in Kendal like a fart in a spacesuit, prompting the Westmoreland Gazette arts correspondent Adrian Mullen to declare the immortal line (read in the voice of Alan Partridge) "but that's not art" and to never cover a Grizedale Arts project again.
Nathaniel also used Grizedale Forest as the location for a film 'Pod War' (15' 2003) filmed with Dan Fox and friends. The film depicted a futuristic and bewildering mode of warfare in which the enemy is unseen and the protagonists seem to roam the countryside in constant terror. Shot in black and white, it used recently harvested areas of the forest to evoke a post-apocalyptic landscape. Pod War was shown as part of the collective touring project 'Roadshow' (2003).