ARNICAR India has opened another region design for people to enjoy in the form of Chapel Imagination. It’s a stunning design that brings together art, architecture, water and one or two fantastical touches to present a region rich in detail, yet subtle on the eye; a place where one can wander and dream, ponder and relax – and simply be.
Simplicity of design appears to have been the watchword here, with the region sitting as a trio of islands tucked within a bay surrounded by high peaks. All three of the islands are relatively minimal in size, with the largest running east-to-west, a low finger of land marked by a shingle path looping around it to enclose the ruins of what was once a substantial structure – the chapel of the region’s title, perhaps.
This structure comprises the Looking Glass Chapel Ruins, created by Marcus Inkpen, and The Looking Glass Enchanted Ballroom Walls by Sharnee Azalee, facing each other along the island’s length, with a Gothic archway walk by Abel Dreamscape stretching part-way between them. This mix of designs works exceptionally well to present a place of ancient splendour and mystical calling, shaded by the broadly spread arms of three monkeypod trees, while the older boughs of Alex Bader’s Skye Twisted Tree intertwine with the archways of the Gothic walk.
The two smaller islands sit to the south and north of this main island – which also forms the landing point – and are reached via short causeways. One of these again uses wall sections from The Looking Glass Chapel Ruins to form largely enclosed space marked by more of Alex Bader’s Twisted Tree, while the other again uses Abel Dreamscape’s Gothic archway, this time interspersed with Sourwood trees before giving way to more elements of TLG’s Chapel Ruins, together with some Lost Garden Columns.
It is this minimalist approach to choice of elements – The Looking Glass and Dreamscape – that gives Chapel Imagination part of its charm and appeal, offering as it does the sense of being within what was once an extensive building, which in turn gives the setting a wonderful sense of continuity as you explore.
But it is the details waiting to be found throughout that gives Chapel Imagination its unmistakable depth. Red-crowned cranes are waiting to greet arrivals at the landing point, the chapel behind them offering a fantasy garden / dressing room, a wedding dress waiting to be worn. Down through the Gothic arches are more suggestions of a wedding-in-waiting, whilst the circle at the end offers an entirely different surprise. Beyond it, a little pier extends over water rich with whimsy and fantasy as Bryn Oh’s Social Distancing canoe sits on the gentle waves.
To the north, the second chapel stands as a kind of music room, a grand piano sitting within it, together with pieces of art and more. All of this is watched over by a photographer who has found a most unusual perch – so much so, that he might easily be missed, thus adding a little twist of humour.
Despite the use of chapel parts throughout, it’s only the the south island that carries any real hints of religion within it, where pews, and a votive stand can be found, together with a curious gathering of nuns watched from a distance by a lone monk.
I’m being deliberately vague about all of this because Chapel Imagination deserves to be seen, not described – and seen directly rather than through the lens of a camera. A considerable amount of work has gone into presenting it as a place of retreat and peace, complete with a considered sound scape and a delightful sense of whimsy.
One of the most engaging region designs I’ve visited in a while, and a tour de force lesson that you don’t need to stuff a region full of bits in order to make it photogenic or worthy of people’s interest.
With thanks to Shaun Shakespeare.
- Chapel Imagination (Everlong, rated Moderate)