I first came across Cica Ghost’s work as a result of Honour MacMillan writing a piece on Cica’s animated stick figures, displayed at LEA 13 from September 2012 through March 2013. Later in 2013 I visited Cica’s Rust, and fell in love with her work, which I started covering from Ghostville onwards.
I mention this because her latest piece, Drawn Town, which opened on February 1st, 2019, in some ways brings my acquaintance with Cica’s work full circle. Within it, she brings together both her familiar 3D design style and an echo of her drawings and stick characters.
Set against a midnight sky and black sea, Drawn Town presents just that: a town surrounded by fields of flowers, all of which appear to have been drawn in chalk on a black board. Or perhaps a better description would be a white-on-black drawing raised from the pages of a pop-up book.
It’s a simple, delightful setting. Star like flowers rise from the darkened ground, mirroring those rising from many of the chimneys of the finger-thin houses. Roads and alleys pass between the houses and buildings, thier routes simple horizontal lines on the ground, while plazas are marked out like white-on-black chequer boards.
Also scattered around and in the town are little black-and-white cars, available for anyone to jump into and start driving (just turn off your AO should you do so). Also to be found are some of Cica’s familiar motifs: her cats, her little stick characters occupying various windows, and places to sit – such as a little café like setting in a town square, or benches by the fields of flowers.
Wrapped in a wonderfully apt quote by Maureen O’Hara, “In the beginning it was all black and white”, Drawn Town is wonderfully whimsical, light and endearing. As per most of Cica’s builds, it will remain open through the month. Do be sure to visit!
Cica Ghost’s latest installation, Lullaby, opened on Tuesday, December 11th. It’s a curious piece, something of a celebration of the creatures that might be said to come out at night, together with touches of some of Cica’s previous installations.
For the byline to the installation, Cica has chosen the chorus from Lullaby for anInsomniac, by Kate Nash. Sung acapella (albeit with an instrumental ending) the song fits the installation very well, offering something of a gentle subtext to the setting – although too deep an examination of song and installation should perhaps be avoided.
The idea was first, but I often listen Kate, so maybe it was influence. I listen her often when I work. I made the girl a few days ago; it was only house at first, but then she needed somebody to think of.
– Cica Ghost on Lullaby
The girl and house in question, can be found towards the middle of the strangely undulating region, perched on a curious table of rock and reached by a ladder impersonating part of the sine curve. She sits atop the house, staring into the distance, lost in thought, the landscape darkened by a greenish night. Her attitude suits the refrain of the chorus perfectly – a girl who is missing someone, and who finds herself unable to sleep and with little interest in how she looks or the state of her surroundings.
Her indifference to her surroundings is a shame, because across this weird landscape with its abrupt hills and valleys and unusual rock formations, the creatures of the night have all come out to play: flying bugs, spiders, curious worms with friendly, anthropomorphic “faces” courtesy of eyes sitting on slug-like stalks and very human tongues lolling happily, and heart-shaped flowers with large, unthreatening eyes. Even some of the hills have eyes, revealing themselves as the domed heads of creatures nestled far enough underground while still able to see what is happening around them.
All of this night, in other circumstances, sound like the stuff of nightmares, particular given the giant snail watching over the landing point – but it is not; it is a night-time setting of playfulness. None of the creatures are in any way nefarious; most are going about their business without concern for whatever else might be happening, although one or two do appear to be a little curious about the stranger in their midst, sitting on her odd perch.
Also to be found in the region are echoes of some of Cica’s past works: a bear stands up on one of the hills, for example. While he may be without a shirt, he and the flittering night bugs bring forth memories of The Bees and the Bears. The three frogs sitting close to the landing point directly reflect Frogs; a spider’s web offers a faint echo of Arachnid, even the girl herself, sitting atop her house, is reminiscent of Moonlight.
And here lies the gentle – if perhaps unintentional – subtext of the installation. Just as Lullaby for an Insomanic reflects on the things we have and the sentimental value they can have, so do these aspects of Cica’s Lullaby gives those familiar with Cica’s work pause to remember her past installations and the joy and other emotions they gave us when they were present in Second Life.
There aren’t too many places to sit within Lullaby (they are there, but you’ll have to find them!). Instead, and tucked away on the top of one of the odd stalagmite-like rock formations Cica offers a free flying bug. Simply take it, Add or Wear it, and use the WASD / arrow keys, together with PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN to fly yourself around.
Lullaby should remain open through until early January for visitors. There are several tip jars scattered around the installation, so do please consider a donation towards this and Cica’s future work in Second Life.
Cica Ghost sent me an invitation to visit her latest installation in Second Life, which opened on Sunday, November 4th, 2018. Rusty is another of Cica’s more quirky builds, a strange post-industrial landscape looking like a little town and dominated y some strange machines.
Cica sums the installation up with a quote by Joseph Addison, the 18th Century English essayist, poet, playwright, politician, and co-founder of The Spectator magazine: Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week. While Addison, the son of a Church of England clergyman, was referring to the act of going to church – noting that it both refreshes people’s thinking around God and gets them looking their best in their Sunday finery – Cica offers no such religious connotations with Rusty.
Instead she offers a single suggestion: “have fun!” It’s an idea that’s also well suited to a Sunday, but which applies equally well whenever you opt to visit Rusty, because this is a place where there is a lot to do, besides wandering around.
Given the name of the installation, it should come as no surprise that rust features heavily here; it can be found on almost every surface – sometimes to the degree that you might think that simply tapping a drum or tower or metal line could result in all or part of what you touched vanishing a cloud of rusty dust and falling debris. The structures themselves are many and varied – from chimney-like stacks to metal prams travelling along old metal tent spikes strung together to form cables. Part of some might resemble old watering cans, others strange kettles with upturned spouts. Some even has a decidedly anthropomorphic look about them.
To the east of the region, for example, a series of ladders rise against some of these strange structures, one of which, with its large rotating wheels set either side of a hook-like bill, looking from a distance like some weird metal flamingo. More to the centre of the region is a very definite rooster, also offering a place to sit.
There are also metal creatures to be found here, from the massive wheeled (and ridable) cat near the landing point (if it is not already rolling around the region, jump up on its back and touch its tail light to start moving), to an odd metal spider, or the mouse also out on the water, well away from its cousin on dry land.
The “Flamingo” is linked to a neighbouring tower by means of a metal plank. Those wishing to do so can obtain a pair of boxing gloves at either tower and join in a game of Plank Boxing. Elsewhere are plenty of places to sit and watch others come and go, while a tall building offers the only place where machinery largely unaffected by rust can be found. Could it be responsible for keeping the place running?
Filled with Cica’s familiar motifs, Rusty is another whimsical installation that will remain open until the end of the month.
Opening on September 13th, 2018, is Cica Ghost’s latest art installation The Girl Who Cried Wolf, which as she notes is something of a play on the Aesop fable, the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Within the piece, the wolf has already arrived, and can be found chasing the sheep over hill and dale, hoping for a meal. And where is the shepherd boy, who should be watching over them?
Well, unlike the original fable, in which his calls for help are ignored after previously pranking the village into believing a wolf was after their sheep when no such thing was happening, he’s off playing his little flute. Instead, it’s left to a little girl from the village to raise the alarm – shouting for the shepherd boy, who refuses to budge from his perch on a rock.
Within the setting are a number of Cica’s familiar sitting points where visitors can involve themselves in the story (mouse over some of the animals and furnishings to be found in the setting and you’ll discover them), and which offer a little sense of fun to the tale.
Looking at the core of the scene, it is perhaps tempting to look for a deeper meaning within it, or to perhaps ascribe some kind of political undertones to it. But neither is Cica’s intent at all; in fact she makes it clear that when it comes to politics, she has no time for the subject, “and I don’t bring politics into Second Life.” she states firmly.
Instead, this is a setting born entirely of the creative process. “I made that scene with sheep and wolf first,” she told me, “And it reminded me of that fable.”And the switch to having a girl raising a warning of the wolf’s arrival? “I wanted the shepherd boy playing a flute,” Cica says, “so I made the girl.”
And thus a simple, charming update to a famous tale has been made. One in which, the shepherd boy is more interested in playing his flute than in watching over the sheep – leaving it to the little girl to raise the alarm. But ien’t wanting to be off pursuing his own interests rather than the work assigned to them by their elders typical of many little boys?! 😉 .
The Girl Who Cried Wolf will, as with most of Cica’s installations, remain open for around 4 weeks.
A misted isle where the ground is carpeted in flowers, the rolling hills covered in grass, the beaches arced with sand and the tress provide shade from the sun during the day, once the mist has been burned away, or places to rest and sleep as evening heralds the onset of night.
Such might be the place we slip away to when daydreams come to let us escape the drudgery of everyday life; a mystic realm where turtles can be ridden, fae folk might be found, and mushrooms stand as captive groups should we be tempted to dance before them. A land watched over by a kindly, horned giant, and where snails the size of houses court one another or butterfly people flutter.
This is the world Cica Ghost presents to us in Daydream, which opened to the public on Friday, August 10th, 2018. Another wonderful whimsical build, it is a place to which we can all escape and explore, with something to discover at every turn. From the arrival point, this is a world wreathed in morning haze under a cloudy, almost alien sky, the hills are undulating shadows all around, breaking up the skyline.
Where you might wander is entirely, up to you – but be sure that whichever way you go, you’ll find something to captivate the eye, including many echoes of past works by Cica. Cats, mindful of those from 50 Cats (here), for example, are to be found ready to invite people to come inside hollow tree trunks and sit or lie with them for a time. Meanwhile a great horned dragon lies with his body covered in stand, just his head and tail visible, reminding us of the dragons from Fairy Tales (here), while the giant on the hill carries with him a look of her Beginners (here) – there’s even a hint of Strawberryland (here) waiting to be found, although the berries are rapidly being noshed by another pair of Cica’s characters!
All of which should not be taken to mean that Daydream is derivative; far from it. This is as much an original as all of Cica’s prior works; the echoes are simply that – echoes. And give this is a place for daydreaming, they’re not at all out-of-place; why shouldn’t Cica have little dreams of her art and creations? And why shouldn’t we enjoy her daydreams as well?
As always with Cica’s creations there are things to do while exploring here – quite a lot, in actual fact. I’ve already mentioned a couple – sitting with cats or dancing before mushrooms, but there are many more, next to and on top of things – so be sure to mouse around yourself as you are exploring and taking pictures.
I never cease to enjoy Cica’s work; it is always expressive, something whimsically, sometimes with a deeper interpretation. Howsoever you find it, there is always a sense of fun in life to be found. With Daydream. we’re presented with just that: a chance to jump into Cica’s daydreams and share in them with her, or to go exploring and find our own.
Cica Ghost opened her latest region-sized installation on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018, offering visitor the chance to visit Another Planet, a place where aliens roam free under the arches of strange landforms (are they mineral? Are they vegetable?), and where rocks – perhaps asteroids that were once falling from space – float serenely above various points in the scene, held aloft by invisible forces.
It is a strange landscape, in places pockmarked by tiny impact craters in the sand; in others the rock is covered in a an irregular pattern of indentations that from a distance almost look like they are indented scales on a skin. The strange “growths” rising from this gently rolling land also in places show signs of weathering by meteor strikes, suggesting they were once a part of the ground from which they rise. Here and there, odd circular protrusions rise and fall, as if breathing in a steady rhythm.
The aliens here come – if you discount human avatars (and who are perhaps more correctly the aliens within this environment) – two forms. There are strange, slug-like creatures with large, black eyes set either side of a small hooked proboscis, their bodies expanding an contracting along their length, even though they don’t move. Then there are the smaller creatures, who stand upright on ribbed conical bodies. They also have large eyes set into their round heads – perhaps indicative of the low lighting common to this world.
Despite seemingly without arms, these smaller aliens appear to have a degree of technological mastery; there are hover bikes and flying barges moving around the landscape, perfectly suited to transporting one or two them around (or indeed, one or two human avatars should you opt to sit on them – and if they don’t take your fancy, there is also a floating platform drifting around the sky). And as flying around may not appeal to all of them, some have apparently developed a form of television, and have gathered around it eagerly, some giving vent to very human frowns directed at others, possibly because their view was temporarily blocked.
Or… perhaps the television and the flying machines are the remnants of another time and civilisation? Who can say?
Visitors to the region are presented with a choice: to explore in their default form / look, or grab a free alien disguise from the vendor at the landing point. For those seriously interested in exobiology studies, the alien disguise is a must, helping you to blend in. And by “exobiology studies”, I mean having a little fun.
Another Planet is a further marvellous, whimsical installation by Cica; one which comes – as do most of her designs – with a quote. It’s from English author, humorist and musician, Benny Bellamacina:
Find out if you’re still human, observe yourself from another planet
It’s an interesting quote, intended to give us pause and remember who we are. At a time when so much discomfort and hurt is being caused to so many around the world – the displaced, those seeking refuge, the lost – both in their own countries and those where they had hoped to find rest, help, and support, it’s perhaps a fitting little poke at our individual and collective consciousness; a reminder of what we should be to our fellow human beings.
Whether you opt to think on deeper things or to simply sit back and enjoy, Another Planet once again illustrates the magic of Cica’s imagination – which should be enough in itself to encourage a visit.