|The image is a large detail of Agnes II. The colors are much better in the original, so go see!|
|The Foliate Head|
These magical figures are descendants of folk culture and of Andy Goldsworthy in their out-of-doors, make-do-with-the-landscape beauty. The mythic quality that often accrues to Goldsworthy's pieces becomes dominant in these, as suggestions of narrative enters in, story and ceremony hovering like an ancient, rural halo over the heads of characters emerging from the natural world.
Yet where Goldsworthy often gives one the feeling that an infinitely precocious child has been celebrating and playing with the materials of the natural world in a timeless realm, these pieces make a contemporary art by going back through folk tradition and the past, and it seems exactly right that they focus a lens on the elderly, who are our living embodiment of the (more recent) past.
As with Goldworthy, the record of the art event involves a collision between two kinds of time, the quick instant of the photographic medium and the time of a piece that invokes a more mythic time. But here there is a stronger knowingness about what is happening--a knowledge of that very collision--that often emerges from the pictures and lends many of them a kind of whimsy and playfulness. This air seems to come from the artifice of costuming, which turns traditional "greening" costumes (like Jack o' the Green or the Green Man) into something more graceful and artful, but also emerges in the expressive faces of a few of the models.
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Hat tip to the nimble-minded writer Haddayr Copley-Woods, whose name neatly and appropriately combines art (John Singleton Copley) and forests. Later addendum: Being a foliate-head lover, I'd be interested in what people especially like--which ones and why.
Samples of The Foliate Head poems and excerpts from Thaliad are at Scribd.
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Meeting me elsewhere: excerpts from 2012 books (A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, Thaliad, The Foliate Head) at Scribd. Thaliad at Phoenicia Publishing. See page tabs above for review clips and information on those brand new books plus The Throne of Psyche from 2011, and more.