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Flights of Fancy

7th – 22th March, Linton & Kay Gallery, Perth.

Flights of Fancy is a whimsical peek into the world of childhood fantasy unbridled by science or logic. In childhood imagination is given full reign. Like the lifespan of a butterfly this is an all too brief moment in life but an awe-inspiringly beautiful one. In childhood we reach beyond ourselves and embellish everyday existence until imaginary friends share our dreams, pets take on human characteristics and a simple box of costumes can transform the lowliest child into a Knight Templar or the Tsar of Russia. To dress in the costumes of countries, don masks and slip into animal suits (much like the transitions in many fairy tales), the young imagination explores other lives and other worlds with their fantasy companions.


In this exhibition I have chosen three Victorian and Edwardian children’s texts to represent the importance of external influences in the construction of imaginary worlds.  Chums is an illustrated boys annual from 1808 full of who-dunnits, brain teasers and stories of the colonies, The Captain’s Children describes the adventures of a group of children who travel to Brazil and find delightful talking birds and magical places and Perrault’s Fairy Tales is comprised of such loved stories as Little Red Riding Hood and The Frog Prince. Each of these books represent the joys of generations of readers, thousands of little minds all over the world who have been touched by the written word and made them their own. 


I decided on such early children’s literature to correspond with the Victorian cabinet cards on which my works are based. Cabinet cards were posed Victorian photographs where a multitude of props and costumes were utilized to give an overall impression of how the sitter desired to be represented. Roughly painted and sometimes clumsily draped backdrops, pieces of furniture and symbolic items were all grouped together to create this treasured memento.  In my collection I wish to reveal the constructed world of the imagination not as a cohesive whole, rather as a series of items tacked together from disparate sources assembled in a staged still to represent the mind of the child or children in question.  There are also a select number of images which deal with the effect of these early influences upon the adult mind. ‘The Resurrected Heart’ and ‘Queen for a Day’ both talk about the idea of true love; a concept which as young children we first encounter in fairy tales, but which takes on a more dramatic complexity when faced in real life.


Lastly the idea of collecting memories and storing them away for posterity can be viewed in the framed butterflies and moths which have been meticulously varnished and then drawn upon with pen and ink. They rest upon the covers of the volumes stated above and along with two scorpions are small treasures which bridge the gap between the real and the imagined, moving outside of time just as the images of the Victorian children in their newly acquired dream worlds have done beside them.

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