In the latter half of 2017, Ceakay Ballyhoo presented A Watercolour Wander, an exploration of a landscape rendered as a watercolour painting, complete with its own story (read more about it here). It was an imaginative approach to art and storytelling which at the time attracted Seanchai Library’s Caledonia Skytower to present readings of the story during walking tours of the installation.
Given that this melding of art and tale worked so well, little wonder that Ceakay has continued to explore the idea, and recently opened a follow-up environment and story, The Forest Beyond. Only in this case, rather than wandering a landscape rendered as a painting, visitors are invited to explore a painting rendered as a landscape.
Located on Ceakay’s own region, The Forest Beyond reunites us with Ceakay’s little girl from the first story – whose name, we learn, is Elle. As she drifts off to sleep, her eyes are drawn to a new painting on her bedroom wall, a Christmas present depicting mushrooms with faces under their broad, spotted tops, sitting under a starry sky, the warm glow of lights or a fire emanating from the entrance of a cave beyond them – and thus she falls asleep, and into the painting itself, wherein lies an adventure – which visitors are invited to share as they follow a path through the region and the painting.
A story is provided to help people along the way, and can be read in one of two ways: by visiting Ceakay’s blog, or by touching the little story stones located alongside each major scene of Elle’s dream to receive a note card. But be warned – there is more than just one story to be found here!
“The painting was made in autumn 2016. It was part of a small exposition at my gallery,” Ceakay (CK for short) explains. “[Then I] started to try to make a hollow hill sculpt and once she accomplished that, [I] decided on making a world behind the painting. The story developed as the build was progressing, fitting the separate textures and sculpts together as a whole.”
“Not all the creatures and trees or scenes have been included in the story of the Little Girl and the Forest Beyond,” she continues, referencing the additional scenes to be found in the forest. “The ones that have are certain to have unmentioned stories to their lives yet, the one that aren’t are waiting for people to add their own stories to them.”
And therein lies an invitation. If you enjoy creative writing, CK invites you to visit the forest and write your own short story or poem or song about what captures your imagination there – look for the reflections in the lake as an example of some of the things not featured in Elle’s story.Sorties submitted to CK via note card or e-mail ceakayballyhoo-at-gmail.com) by February 12th, 2017, could stand to win a L$500 prize! To help get imaginations turning, there are several spots just off the main path offering places to sit and think, or to simply spend a little time relaxing.
This is another enchanting installation by CK. When visiting, do please consider a donation towards the upkeep of the region, and if you enjoy the story, memorabilia – models of the characters, paintings of the scenes, etc., can be purchased from the little shop area at the end of the trail.
- The Forest Beyond (Mistwood Isle & CKB Art Gallery, rated: Adult)