Bamboo Barnes opened her latest exhibition, entitled Drawer, at the Hannington Arts Foundation, owned and operated by Hannington Xeltentat. It also marks my own overdue resumption if covering art exhibitions at HAF.
A self-taught digital artist from Japan, Bamboo has used Second Life as a means of both refining her talent and displaying her work, growing from producing avatar studies to creating intricate pieces that both engage and challenge the eye and mind. Her work, generally vibrant in colour, and also evocative, provocative, and emotive, is among the most striking and unique in Second Life – and has also made the transition into the physical world.
Drawer features 20 images that appear to be self-portraits that – as is Bamboo’s style – lean towards the abstract, whilst using various techniques – collage, overlay, and so on – such that individual pieces can also touch upon the likes of impressionism and surrealism. Each image is perfectly capable of holding the attention in and of itself, but when taken together, how might they relate to the exhibition’s title and the poem Bamboo presents within its introductory notes:
Drawer that don’t close properly.
Drawer that you no longer use.
A faded picture stuck in the back, ton messed wrinkled one.
You’ve forgotten what was like but the smell comes back.
For the days you have loved close your eyes, close the drawer.
– Bamboo Barnes
To me, these lines suggest two potential interpretations. The first is on the theme of introspection; something Bamboo has dwelt upon through exhibitions such as Receding Reality and Mindstorm. However, here it is perhaps more layered, referencing that spark of joy when finding something created long ago than had been put away and forgotten, and which in turn brings forth memories and feelings that had themselves been locked away unheeded in the filing cabinet of the mind. Are, then, these images each a visual aide-mémoire, bringing forth those long hidden thoughts and emotions that led to its creation?
O might this been a broader commentary that we cannot remain caught up with dwelling on (or in) the past? That life moves on perpetually, carrying us along with it – and for the artist this means accepting what has been created can not no longer be changed, no matter how more advanced we have become or how out outlooks have changed; and for the artists, this means accepting what has been, and it is towards canvases new that one should now turn? And in this, is there not a salient reminder to us all, that while looking back can yield understanding or discovery, so too should the drawers of memory be pushed closed, keeping safe that which has been, while the eyes look towards what is yet to be?
As always, Bamboo offers us much to appreciate through her art, and much to ponder both in terms of how each piece came to be and what it represents, and the challenge she present through the five lines of blank verse.
- Bamboo’s Drawer, Hannington Arts Foundation ( Xeltentat Enterprises, rated Moderate)