Talefeathers is – as far as I’m aware – my first exposure to Poppy Morris’s art in Second Life. Currently open at the Janus Gallery II within Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat arts hub, this is an engaging display of physical world art spread across the two levels at the gallery.
Hailing from Canada, Poppy commenced her art career in the world of paint, but has since expanded her expression to include textiles, new media and sound, and more. Her work as an artist and performer – Poppy often performs live as a sound artist- has been displayed before both domestic and international audiences, gaining considerable recognition. In particular, she uses her work as a means of exploring our relationship with technology, utilising “traditional art techniques such as weaving and dying alongside those of machines and micro-controllers. Most recently (in terms of her time in Second Life) she has started using machinima as a means of artistic expression.
An example of the latter forms the centrepiece to Talefeathers, Entitled Chrysalis Circuitry, it is the result of a commission by New Music Edmonton, and features images by Poppy together with music she composed with musician Allison Balcetis (who also performs in the video). A ballet of music, light and sounds, the piece edges on the psychedelic in places but is also an aural and motion rich form of abstract expressionism that is both flowing and in places atonal, thus offering a rich reflection of the genre’s many forms through a living piece of imagery and music.
Around the video screen on the lower level of the gallery are nine pieces of Poppy’s 2D art, with a further 20 displayed around the walls of the upper level. It’s a richly diverse selection of pieces that also might, in places be said to be thematically grouped. Take, for example six of the pieces along the lower west wall of the gallery. These feature a range of bird-like creatures (some very definitely avian in nature, some apparently wearing masks), all of which – thanks to their titles – carry something of a social commentary. Meanwhile, and above them are four images focused on deer that also, through their titles, also appear to offer reflections on emotional responses.
Across the gallery from both of these sets, and occupying both upper and lower levels, are what might be regarded as more “traditional” landscape and plant paintings, but which again offer further food for thought in their distinctive titles. In this, the title given to this exhibition becomes clear; the tale reflecting the fact that all of the paintings have a story contained within their individual canvases, the feather perhaps a reflection of the avian nature seen within many of the piece. In fact, these might be said to be stories in two parts, depending on whether we opt to view them simply as they hang on the walls – as I would initially recommend – or through the lens of the title Poppy has determined for each piece – which I would suggest as a follow-on activity, and only after appreciating / interpreting all of the pieces sans any reference to their titles so as not to be influenced in your initial interpretation.
By doing this, it is possible to view, as a singular example, Memories of Renewal both as a piece that celebrates a spring evening, with flowers in bloom set against the backdrop of a sky reddened by a setting Sun. At the same time, taken with its title, it sits as a reminder that, when it comes naturally rather than as a result of human error or mischief, something like a forest fire (suggested by the red backdrop to the piece) is actually nature’s way of natural renewal and rebirth (as presented by the foreground blooms).
Thus, Talefeathers is a visually engaging collection of art awaiting discovery, with Chrysalis Circuitry offer a unique insight into how Second Life can be a canvas for modern performance art and expression through machinima, and I recommend both during their month-long (I believe) stay at Janus Gallery II.
- Janus Gallery II (Sinful Retreat, rated: Adult)