Gigi has developed a concept of making mixed media sculptures within a viewing chamber; it enables a transformation of found objects by harnessing and manipulating colour and light to create illusory, mythical landscapes. She calls them Sculpturescapes. Seen through a single aperture, the spectators’ perceptions are central to them embarking on a journey of their own.
“..and the same objects appear straight when looked at out of the water, and crooked when in the water, and the concave becomes convex, owing to the illusion about colours to which sight is liable. Thus every sort of confusion is revealed within us, and this is that weakness of the human mind in which the art of conjoring and of deceiving by light and shadow and other ingenious devices imposes, having an effect upon us like magic.”
Plato – ‘The Republic’ Book X
I am exhibiting new Sculpturescape work at the Fringe Arts Bath. The curators Mike and Dona Bradley, describe doorways as thresholds to somewhere new. Doorways are the physical symbol of the transition – of change – between the ‘now’ and the ‘next’, from ‘here’ to ‘there’; moving in, moving out, moving on. Familiar in ritual, religion, myth and literature, doorways have emotional power. Doorways occupy the liminal space between two states of being, a transition that has to be negotiated before the ‘next’ can begin.
Rite of Passage is one of the Sculpturescapes I am showing at the exhibition. It shows a figure from the vantage point of a doorway, a crack in the door or a door that is ajar. The figure is a lady in a pose of prayer, consolation, meditation. Here she is alone and we are looking through into her private space. It forces us to ask ourselves whether or not we should be looking? We are not being invited to enter in through the doorway, but to stay outside and hidden. If we look beyond her we see that she entered from another space, through a dimly lit archway. That entrance beyond is mysterious and holds a slight feeling of eeriness. Where does this doorway take her? Where has she come from? Does she turn left to leave this sacred space, or right? Does she belong in our time? Who is she and in what sort of world does she belong? In what sort of world do we belong? Is this a doorway to an earlier time when prayer and contemplation were commonplace?
In this Sculpturescape, we are witnesses to a scene in an other-worldly place, where a lady quietly marvels at this luminescence. It appears momentarily cradled coming from a seemingly endless world beyond.
These sculptures take their inspiration from a visit to an abandoned Romanesque church in Apulia in 1970s. Gigi was shown a long-forgotten initiation chamber of the Knights Templar deep below the crypt. It had been created by people who had an understanding of the sensory effect that light would have had on the initiates. They left from a room designed as a pure circle, with a piercing natural light giving only the hint of the shape of the room. They then had to navigate through a narrow coal-black passage, set with stumbling blocks and recesses in which the knights could conceal themselves and set upon the initiates to prevent them from reaching their goal; a room built as a pure square and again illuminated by a simple shaft of natural light.
This journey has parallels with that of Jason and the Argonauts. Gigi has used the illusory nature of the Sculpturescape to capture the sense and atmosphere of the journey.
This series of Sculpturescapes is about passage. When Jason took his rite of passage to find the Golden Fleece, and the Knights Templars took part in their rites of initiation, the effect of place on their senses was important. Being in the unknown fills the atmosphere with heightened expectation and drama. Passages contain elements of mystery, discovery, unpredictability, sometimes darkness into light – light into darkness.
A passage is an in-between place. It links one location to another, one person to another. However the mystery about a passage is where is it coming from and leading to. It is a space in which there is transition, a person entering is not the same person as on leaving.
I was listening to a Podcast about a German writer called Christa Wolff. Neil McGregor, then head of the British Museum, was talking about the impact the Wall had on families and friends when they became divided by it.
Christa Wolff wrote about this period in her novel ‘Der Geteilte Himmel’. ‘Himmel’ is the word for both ‘sky’ and ‘heaven’.
On watching the wall being built, the main character, Manfred, says to his wife Rita “at least they can’t divide the sky”.
I was struck by the simplicity of this idea as a sculptor. The phrase implies an unbounded freedom. I wanted to create a sense of longing in a new series of Sculpturescapes in response to this. It had to express the wonder of the firmament above us, from the vantage point of a drain, a cell, a tunnel or a wall.
This series of Sculpturescapes is an interpretation of the epic myth of Jason, Ιáσων and his journey through the Symplegades – the Clashing Rocks, on his way to find the Golden Fleece in the land of Colchis. Taking inspiration from Jason’s perspective on board his ship the Argo, Gigi uses a single aperture, as used in telescopes and creates three-dimensional sculptures from within a light chamber. The essential elements of this episode are the journey, the world beyond the horizon and the world below.
The ship ‘Argo’ was built with the help of the Goddess of crafts, Athena and Jason filled the ship with the leading heroes of his time including Heracles. They had to pass through The Clashing Rocks which until then had never been achieved. The rocks would crush anything or anyone in their path. An old man called Phineus gave Jason the advice to set loose a white dove to fly between the rocks and then if the dove succeeded, they should row with all their might and sail through.
The lines are the ineluctable lines of force which simultaneously drive and lead Jason on his journey towards the horizon line and into the unknown. No-one can ever reach their horizon even though it hangs there like a beacon. Jason is on the high seas with only his Argonauts to guide him.
These sculpturescapes of The Deep are inspired by the mythical journey across the sea to the land of Colchis by Jason and the Argonauts. The world below, the deep sea, is mysterious and unfathomable. The sculptures combine the waveform with the strange apertures and creatures that inhabit that world.
Here the mythical story of Jason on his journey across the sea in search of the Golden Fleece is the inspiration for these Sculpturescapes. They are about the way light plays on the surfaces of the waves in the mysterious world of the sea at night when shapes and distance conspire and confuse the senses.