“One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts -just mere thoughts – are as powerful as electric batteries – as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison.”
The stunning garden surrounding the Studio gallery, with its landscape of tall trees and its various nooks and crannies, could be likened to the scenery usually found in a children’s literature classic, such as Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘Secret Garden’ or many of Enid Blyton’s books.
As adults, the nostalgia one may feel for this idealized world of delight, joy and small miracles is perhaps tainted by a shade of darkness. We have acquired the knowledge that these stories are not without cost to the writer. Indeed, many children’s authors have had unhappy lives or come to unhappy ends; not to mention the children of those writers whose childhood experiences have been the basis for many a tell all book.
In this exhibition visitors may explore the delight and darkness of the secret garden — (as we know, sometimes keeping secrets can be a very bad thing indeed) —through works which combine light and shade in a space where life, death and renewal take place on a daily and seasonal basis, where art fuses with nature or is restrained by the closed environment of the hothouse gallery.
In the Studio gallery, Taciana Coimbra’s ‘Immersions’, painted bodies of women in different positions, as seen from an a variety of perspectives, cover the whole room, representing a cathartic carpet of unforgotten feelings, loaded with truths and ready to return to life under the feet of the on-walking visitors. Stepping on this intriguing carpet, in the act of trampling on the bodies on images which could be interpreted as being beautiful or ominous, the visitor is brought to be part of a perceptive act that encloses the whole space. The figures are a form of alphabet –a necro-alfabet or dead alphabet because it is written in the private form of an unspecified place, where the buried bodies are not rotting human corpses, but feelings hidden in the subconscious and carved in the heart.
In the open space behind the gallery, in a game of hide-and-seek amongst the luxurious real-life foliage, are Luigi Menichelli’s still lifes captured in plastic and now become a synthetic material designed which has slowed down the inevitability of decay, thanks to human ingenuity in the expansion of technology. Like a modern-day poisoned apple from Snow White, they evoke immortality, death, and the human desire to extend life.
In the garden, listening to Ray Ganz’s ‘Nightmare on Skehan Street’ soundtrack of unique and unrepeatable compositions of natural and abnormal sounds, mirroring a nocturnal experience of solitude, the viewer becomes an active part of the artist’s research in acoustic meaning and selective listening.
Trying to trace their way back to the secret garden, the visitors start a quest to their personal Cosmogenesis, unveiling the innermost enigmas that lay behind the evanescing magic of children’s fiction.
“The Magic in this garden has made me stand up and know I am going to live to be a man.” Frances Hodgson Burnett