Exhibitions: Scented Gardens for the Blind, 2010

Scented Gardens for the Blind is series of black and white photographic prints on cotton with embroidered detail of metallic threads, and hand made lace. They are dream-like landscapes hovering on the border where dreams and reality are blurred.  They explore our ability to lose oneself and become immersed in a special place.  Whilst the materials used are unusual for photographic artworks, these images are nonetheless firmly embedded in the tradition of photography forming a partnership of high-end digital imaging with old world crafts.  A simple photograph has been translated and ultimately transformed.

Photography is accessible to all but the most impoverished.  We use it to freeze a moment in time. Yet it has the ability to make things appear as they are not.  It creates an illusion, a simulation that subverts time and alters our memories by transforming the captured moment into a fantasy dependent on the desires of the individual.

The title of this body of work makes reference to Janet Frame’s novel in which the characters lead secret interior lives and inhabit private worlds. While Janet Frame’s characters occupy disturbing personal spaces, the visitors to these gardens are tempted into intriguing, intimate spaces of unrestrained possibilities. The viewer is invited to enter environments of heightened reality in which they become immersed in the world of senses.

Influenced by magic realism, these artworks evoke the expansion and unravelling of what we call “reality”, as imagination and lived body experiences take over.  A small detail in the garden assumes importance and the viewer becomes absorbed into a heightened sense of awareness.  By experiencing the golden light shining through the foliage with one sense, our sight, another sense is evoked as we recall the warm of the sun on the skin.

There is a certain wildness and escape from order that exists in these works.  A bursting free from the more precise constraints of a structured garden as synaesthesia triggered by memory and imagination takes over.  Tangled branches are juxtaposed with shiny, glittering thread luring the viewer into the picture plane.

The series of works titled Dialogue with a Dream, are tokens of the imagination.   They are a mind’s eye view of the garden in the form of mental keepsake that can be revisited.  The lace that frames these works is a metaphor for the neat and tidy garden plots and rows that contain our memories.  Imagination however, causes some shifting and distortion over time that leads to an unravelling of these mind tokens.

Gardens provide sanctuary and in some cultures trees are worshiped.   The personality or mood of a garden shifts as the seasons change, or as the sun moves across the sky during the course of the day.  The dappling of shadows or the light of the moon can transform a canopy of trees that at one time may appear mundane into an enchanted space.  In these works however, the enchantment is not without some threat, or feeling of possible disturbance that adds to their allure.