or Gnome Bittersweet Gnome?
I do like a fairy garden.
There. I came out and said it. Does that make me twee? Not just any fairy garden. It has to be tongue-in-cheek, ideally with social meanings, a political message, or just a plain crazy-offbeat combination of miniatures.
Gnomes are OK, as long as you’re aware of their inborn kitschness.
I easily tune into brokenness these days.
Loss, dying and dementia wrap around my personal and professional spheres. I notice and respond to the sorrows of those around me. I guess I have a negativity bias. Do you?
They say it’s commonly human to focus in on the one negative thing in an armful, a roomful, a lifestyle-full of health, love and glitter. Yeah, well, didn’t the Buddha say, ‘Life is suffering’? And that it helps to be with it, look at it, breathe it in; not always run away, or always crave something better.
But hey – the purpose of this blog is to cultivate creativity, and creativity isn’t just made of neat, fully-formed fairy wings. Creativity acknowledges the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ (thank you, Billy Shakespeare). It fashions the mottled, the battered, the forgotten into something new and possibly sparkly.
I chance upon a Gnome Home in my neighbourhood. I don’t care what anyone says….
It’s art. Someone has intentionally brought together a bunch of disparate characters and formed them into a friendly grouping. What do I see in the humble display?
Let’s build community, here in this townhouse estate.
Let’s welcome all beings, including refugees.
Let’s take action, however small, in creating our world as we wish to.
Let’s do this artfully, shamelessly, with childlike wonder.
Let’s not force our every waking breath to conform to linear beige or the elite political class’ current formula of how to proceed.
I attend an exhibition: Nick Cave’s Until. This Nick Cave is not the Oz musician. He is an African American visual artist.
The founding question of Until:
‘Is there racism in heaven?’
He has made large – very large – powerful work responding to systematic brutalisation of black people.
Crystal Cloudscape. Atop a shimmering cloud composed of 100s and 1000s of magic crystalline chandeliers, abides a fairy garden of a different kind. Paradise?
Beaded dream catchers, birds, gramophone players, lots of vintage store stuff,
including lawn jockeys – garden-dwelling cultural stereotypes of subservient, smiling African Americans.
I return to the local Gnome Home to take more photos. So sweet. But wait!
That hat is gone, smashed. And there – another maimed, hatless figure. Violence has occurred in this most innocent, most hopeful of places. I cry. It gets worse.
That Buddha statue there. Its head is gone. Misery engulfs me. Who would do that?
They moisten my face,
the green earth.
They clear my vision.
I imagine another lens. On this site of the former Children’s Hospital, now a rambling townhouse complex; maybe just maybe the motley gnomes with their whale, duck and Buddha friends, were broken to start off with. Maybe, just maybe, they were already damaged and were brought here for healing and communal comfort.
Perhaps the hats and heads were already dismembered and the Gnome Home creator patched them together.
Perhaps there is life, health and hope.
And even if that rose-coloured fantasy is incorrect,
here they all are
in their gathering place –
They commune in camaraderie – imperfect, yet wholly together.
After the tears, I remember to challenge my negativity bias. I remember to notice Resilience. Vulnerability might be present, but Resilience is also present.
Welcome to the
Gnome Bittersweet Gnome
the Art of Resilience.
Here are several previous Art and Soul blog posts
Here’s an article about Nick Cave’s Until.
Let us here at Art and Soul Space continue creating community.
Please share your thoughts.
with love, art and soul
Love the gnome home in the hood. There’s certainly a place in this world for everyone. Must have been amazing to see Nick Cave’s work. It looks monumental.
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Thank you, Gallivanta. Yes – a place in this world for everyone. Australia isn’t treating asylum seekers so well of late. And yes – Nick Cave’s work. Phenomenal.
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No, asylum seekers are doing it hard. 😦