I was drawn back to Banana Island, Bowie Zeplin’s homestead region, which I last visited in March, due to a post from Honour which indicated Bowie’s new build is now close to completion. As her work is always stunning to see, as anyone who saw Pangloss will know only too well, I knew I’d have to hop over and see for myself as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
As with her previous pieces, Beeswing is beautifully composed, striking to the eye and with a “natural” surrealism which makes it truly unique.
The first thing you’ll notice on arrival is the region is darkly atmospheric – I’ve taken the liberty of either toning-up my images or of using a slightly different windlight to the default. The landscape is largely given over to water surrounded by hills, and features raised wooden walkways which wind through the region and under the thick roots of trees which float serenely overhead.
Wander the walkways, and you’ll come across vignettes, large and small, many of which appear to be memories of childhood or of events from childhood. Some may be happy: an innocent game of hopscotch or a favourite book. Others appear less happy: the tiny apartment house, ripped open by an upthrust tree, perhaps an echo of a parental divorce, the shattering of a home, the tiny figure within the broken building representing a daughter standing isolated and alone as her parents go their separate ways.
Elsewhere, the images appear to be all that remains of dreams and hopes once held, or the memories of roads not taken: the dancer under a single spotlight; the naked figure rising from water displaying ever-changing images, her hand extended towards a star above her, as if reaching for her future. Mixed with these are other little vignettes I’ll leave to you to interpret.
Toward one side of the region sits a gilded cage, doors flung wide, within which sits an idyllic image: a house sitting in a beautiful landscape, smoke rising from its chimney as water tumbles from a waterfall nearby to feed a crystal blue lake before passing under a quaint stone bridge. The kind of thing society tells us is the ideal lifestyle we all should strive to attain; yet still those gilded cage doors sit, both inviting us in and perhaps warning us of the price we may yet face should we do so …
To determine a meaning here, if one is indeed intended, is not easy. Nor, frankly, is it required, given the captivating beauty apparent in each of these scenes. To me, if there is a theme here, then perhaps it echoes the meaning behind Richard Thompson’s song Beeswing, a refrain from which can be found in the region; that the installation is about the choices we make in life, or which are thrust upon us, and the price they carry.
If that sounds dark, then don’t be put off: Beeswing is an evocative place, stunning in composition and with a beauty as fine as a bee’s wing. More than worth the time taken to visit it.
- Beeswing / Banana Island SLurl (Rated: Moderate)