Gnome Sweet Gnome?

or Gnome Bittersweet Gnome?

Confession One:

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.

gnome fairy art

Unlikely friends

Confession Two:

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.

hope optimism broken gnome

Even if I’ve lost my hat, I welcome you

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.

Gnome Home in the ‘Hood

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.

friendship art

the unquenchable desire for home, family, friendship, community

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.

Nick Cave Until

Crystal Cloudscape
Nick Cave
Carriageworks, Sydney til March 3rd

Crystal Cloudscape. Atop a shimmering cloud composed of 100s and 1000s of magic crystalline chandeliers, abides a fairy garden of a different kind. Paradise?

art Nick Cave racism heaven

Crystal Cloudscape
Nick Cave
Carriageworks, Sydney til March 3rd

Beaded dream catchers, birds, gramophone players, lots of vintage store stuff,

art Nick Cave Until

Crystal Cloudscape
Nick Cave
Carriageworks, Sydney til March 3rd

including lawn jockeys – garden-dwelling cultural stereotypes of subservient, smiling African Americans.

lawn jockey Nick Cave art

Crystal Cloudscape
Nick Cave
Carriageworks, Sydney

I return to the local Gnome Home to take more photos. So sweet. But wait!

hope optimism broken gnome

Even if I’ve lost my hat, I welcome you

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.

art brokenness hope despair

Who would smash up a fairy garden?

That Buddha statue there. Its head is gone. Misery engulfs me. Who would do that?

Tears drop.

They moisten my face,

my clothes,

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.

Gnome Home in the ‘Hood

Perhaps the hats and heads were already dismembered and the Gnome Home creator patched them together.

Perhaps there is life, health and hope.

gnome fairy garden hope

Perhaps there is life, health and hope

And even if that rose-coloured fantasy is incorrect,

here they all are

in their gathering place –

the dented,

the bashed,

the worse-for-wear.

They commune in camaraderie – imperfect, yet wholly together.

multicultural art

There’s even a holy Mary in this multicultural, multi-faith gnome home

art Nick Cave Until

Crystal Cloudscape
Nick Cave
Carriageworks, Sydney til March 3rd

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

that houses

the Art of Resilience.

Here are several previous Art and Soul blog posts

about Imperfection.

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 

from Sally


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