That’s the invitation Cica Ghost presents to visitors to her April 2022 installation, Make a Wish, which she opened to the public on Sunday, April 3rd.
It’s a setting – for me at least – conjured up thoughts on nonsense rhymes and children’s tales. I’m not entirely sure why, but it did; I think it might because the installation is rich in a sense of fun and silliness, together with some fantastical amphibious fish that deserve their place in children’s rhymes.
The fish bask on the stony land or upon smooth, holding themselves up on fore flippers and fat tails, dorsal fins raised like sails, eyes roving around as they observe everything on this island of humpy hills and rather amusing stick-like houses that vie with the trees to lay claim to being the tallest objects within the setting.
Ladders climb the sides of some of the houses to allow visitors to work their way up onto their roofs, where poses might be played with. Elsewhere sturdy ropes slung between tall poles may offer tightrope walkers a chance to exercise their skills or, for the more sedate, benches present places to sit, either alongside houses or under the gaze of either the local storks or the giant pink blobfish sitting at the edge of one of the setting’s pools.
Caught under s grey sky and softly lit, Make A Wish is a simple, enjoyable installation, where even the ladybirds can take a break from their busy lives and give one another a flower over which to make a wish!
There is another world, but it is inside this one.
– Paul Eluard
This is the quote Cica Ghost has selected for the description of her March 2022 installation, Green Planet, which opened on Saturday March 5th. Whilst most quotations give Eluard as saying “in”, rather than “inside”, it is nevertheless an entirely appropriate quote for the installation, and for at least two reasons – which I’ll come to in a moment, and promise not to offer an entire treatise on them!
Follow the SLurl (or the LM, if you have that!), and you’ll be delivered to the bowl of what might be an ancient impact crater, almost completely ringed by green-covered hills. The only way out – worryingly – is a gaping maw overseen by a single large, roving eye, and from within which rise or hang green stalagmites and stalactites – or might they be teeth?!
However, the maw is not that deep and is not waiting to chomp down on you when you attempt to pass; rather it is a gateway to a curved gorge-like canyon, its walls and floor again almost slimed in green and from which green flowers point their trumpet-like blooms at the strange orange-green sky.
The far end of this valley opens out into an even more alien landscape, a place inhabited by strange slug-like creatures as green as the their surroundings, some with what we would regard as the normal complement of eyes, others with decidedly monocular vision and still some with no real indication of any form of eye or eyes. Fat-lipped and bulbous-headed, they are clearly not of Earthly origin, and the mix with more of the strange maw-like creatures and one or two that have legs.
Throughout this landscape, more of the trumpet-like flowers point to the sky, and many of the undulating features have the feel of having been extruded rather than formed, while green globs drool from fronds and rocks as if someone has thrown green paint across this place – or perhaps it is the gunk thrown out by whatever caused the impact crater that is home to the landing point! Also to be found here are little fumeroles that periodically burp forth green bubbles that drift upwards, while grass-like fronds that have escaped any smothering by the green goop curl gently.
Sitting pristine within the setting is a silvered metal rocket, panels heavily riveted and a single viewport looking out over the scene – but the creature with its face pressed to the thick beaded glass does not appear to be human. The presence of the rocket and its traveller, together with a glass-domed very Earthly-looking flower, add perfectly to the overall surrealism of the setting.
And surrealism is one of the reasons the quote Cica has chosen for the setting is so apt: Eluard was one of the founders of the Surrealist movement, dedicated to opening channels in the mind as a means for the unconscious mind to express itself. In this respect, there is much to be said about Second Life and the manner in which we can use it to express ideas of our own and unlock our imaginations in a way that somewhat parallels surrealism’s attempts to unlock the subconscious.
The second element in the fitting choice of Eluard’s quote is that just as there is a myriad of worlds out amongst the stars of our galaxy, some of which – perhaps many – might will harbour strange and exotic life that might be celebrated through the bizarre creatures Cica has given us here; we have only to look inwards to find equally fabulous “other worlds” as they sit within our imaginations. Worlds like Cica’s Green Planet – wonderfully bizarre and captivating, unusual, engaging and fun (be sure to mouse over things – there are hidden dances awaiting discovery and a number of fun poses to be had – although you might have to look up at what is drifting around overhead to find the latter!).
As always, another great installation from Cica, who never fails to offer something fresh and eye-catching each month, so do please consider making a donation to her on-going work when visiting! And don’t forget the gift at the landing point!
When we are young and growing up, life and the world can be filled with the wonderous and the unexpected. While there can be moments of upset and tears, curiosity and our imaginations shape much of what we see, filling us with excitement and laughter. We are led by a desire to play, to make dreams real and have fun. Yesterday is so far behind us, it lies forgotten, tomorrow so far ahead of us, it lies beyond our thinking. There is only the timelessness of today.
As we grow older, we start to lose this infectious joy. Memories of yesterday and concerns for tomorrow start to crowd our thoughts. Laughter becomes rarer; something increasingly restricted to certain activities, losing its childhood spontaneity as childhood falls behind us and we take the command to “put away childish things” perhaps too seriously.
But laughter, fun and living in the moment, being at one with our dreams and imaginations are all important aspects of life. They can give release from pressure, stress and mood, lifting our spirit. Laughter is infectious, positive, warming. Imagination is freedom and dreams can be inspirational. All are timeless in the gifts they bring us and as such, all should be embraced whenever encountered – and we should seek every opportunity to experience them. Such as when visiting Cica Ghost’s latest installation Timeless.
A playground for grown-ups, Timeless offers a lot to do and things to find (three gifts in all). We can sit and talk, or cuddle and relax or get physical and join in a silly dance or two, or show off with the kind of acrobatic prowess many of us may remember from childhood years or wish we could have. Among the bunny people, we can let our imaginations free to picture stories and life in this playground-town and give reign to laughter as we witness Cica’s Birds In Shoes and their reactions to our madcap dancing. And if walking gets too much, there are even little cars to motor around in.
This is a place that encourages us to recapture our sense of fun and laughter; to let go of cares and woes and worries about work or whatever else might be be exerting a negative influence on us. And it is a places perfectly encapsulated by the quote Cica has used with it:
Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever.
– Walt Disney
So, why not take a moment to smile and laugh, seek Cica’s little gifts and recapture a welcome sense of childhood wonder and enjoy a Timeless visit? And as you do, please take the opportunity to show appreciation for Cica’s work in encouraging us to smile and laugh every month.
Sunday, January 2022 saw Cica Ghost open her latest installation in Second Life – just in time for us all to have some extra New Year’s fun.
Funday offers a strange, partially-ruined town, a place where buildings are often lacking the accepted number of walls and roofs, and where courtyards and floors sit partially exposed, partially broken, while roads and paths are entirely absent – the way to get around is to simply wander over grass and under the trees.
However, this is not a place of ruination; rather it is a place of contrasts and brightest; a playground, if you will. Paintings of flowers and windows brighten walls – one of which has Cica’s smiling face peeking down on those below, and another of her playing with a butterfly; washing lines are draped with oversized socks and jumpers, and run between towers and poles, suggesting they could by shimmied along, Nor are all the buildings in ruins; a number of them form thin, squat towers sitting upon pedestals, some of which can be reached by ladders.
Scale is something that doesn’t matter here; chairs suitable for avatars mix with couches (and floor lamps!) big enough for giants. Meanwhile, the local inhabitants – cows, sheep and chickens – suggest a farm may once have been a part of the setting, while the local ponds are home to decidedly oversized frogs and a water worm.
Given this is a build by Cica, there is also a mix of interactive elements (including the seats mentioned above) awaiting discovery, allowing visitors to enjoy a dance or two and even perform some acrobatics.
Easy to explore and with elements that match its the first part of its name, Funday presents an easy way to relax and enjoy Cica’s creativity.
It seems like only a few days since I was writing about Cica’s Sandcastles, so I was surprised to receive an invitation to return to her installation region and witness Waiting, which opened on September 19th.
This is a very different environment to Cica’s most recent installations – Sandcastles, Lollipop, Summer Day – in that the theme here is darker, both in tone and potential meaning. However, before going into specifics, while Cica’s environment settings are always central to her work, it is particularly important that Waiting is viewed under its intended environment settings, or an important detail will be lost.
On the one hand, this is a setting where the orientation seems clear: across a desolate, parched landscape with desiccated trees hills rise hump-like or broad and flat, and on which what might be the remnants of a town stand: tall, aging buildings that stand without glass in windows or roofs on top. This all seems straightforward enough. But then there is the sky.
Stretching from horizon to horizon, the sky is a frozen expanse of flat, parched ground hanging over the setting. And while it may be difficult to initially discern, not only are the trees towards the centre of the land stretching up towards this desolate sky – they also appear to be reaching down from it, branches interwoven like bony fingers. It is a disquieting sight, once noticed, but its and the desolate land below (or is that above, if you flip your perspective to match the “sky”?) are just the start.
As well as the empty buildings and dried-out trees, this is a setting that is home to tall figures. Stone-like grey, emaciated and with faces largely caught in shadows frowns, they are almost golem-like, looking as if they have been formed out of the clay of the Earth beneath the feet of the majority as they sit atop of the central hill (although individuals might be found elsewhere). Why they are huddled together is unclear, but they sit under the tangle of branches “growing” down from the sky – but whether the latter are trying to grasp them or simply form a canopy over them?
Thus, this is a setting with many potential interpretations. These might be aided by consideration of the quote Cica includes with the installation: time waits for no-one. It’s a truism we’re all familiar with, but how might it be applied here? Could it be a reference to the idea that while we have been caught within the worry of the pandemic, life and the world have continued to move forward without us, or might the installation reflect the idea that life is something that happens whilst we sit around waiting for something to happen, or might it mean something more personal, is a matter for how the installation speaks to you as a visitor.
However, when visiting, do be sure to look around carefully and mouse-over things: there are some interesting characters awaiting discovery – check the trees for a couple of them; and there are the expected sit points and dances that mark Cica’s settings, but which many also not always been easy to spot (but as a clue: when all you have is a hammer…).
We all have memories of childhood times, and while they can be a mix of the good and the bad or the happy or the upsetting, hopefully it is the good / happier times that stand in the majority and be recalled as we progress through life.
For those of us who lived on or near the coast during our formative years, it might be that some of those memories are about trips to the seaside: sploshing through the tide as it rolls up the beach, finding rock pools where some of the creatures of the sea – starfish, sea snails and so on – have found refuge until the tide returns, the sight of crabs scuttling their way over the warm sands, or getting out the bucket and spade to build our own fortresses of the imagination in the form of sandcastles.
With her latest installation, which opened at the start of September, Cica Ghost has offered us the opportunity to tap into those beach time memories and relive the delights of discovery and building on the sand. Called – appropriately enough – Sandcastles, its a joyous celebration of time spent at the seaside, and which offers a salient comment on life itself.
This is a place filled with the kind of sandcastles many of us might have envisioned when playing with buckets and spades: places of high curtain walls, tall keeps and graceful towers, where arches connect courtyards and sand stairs climb up to parapets and upper levels while moats stand guard, spanned by graceful bridges. Only here these designs are writ large by Cica as places we can explore and wander without any danger of accidentally treading on them and breaking them. They are true sand castles, complete the sandy stairs we can climb and wooden ladders ready to access higher levels.
Nor do they stand alone. within their walls and courtyards and across the sands on which they stand are denizens of the sea – starfish, hermit crabs, sea snails – all of them with happy faces, with many having fun we’re invited to join, be it dancing or riding see-saws. while for those who prefer something quieter, in places the sand has been shaped into benches to be sat on, or shells can be found that offer a place to curl up in.
Sandcastles is a place designed to evoke happiness and a sense of child-like release. It is also a reminder that it is important we not only keep hold of memories of happy times, we should make happy times part of the fabric of our lives, to be enjoyed and shared because – as the quote by American author and teacher Jack Kornfield that sits within the setting’s About Land description reminds us – nothing, from castles in the sand to life itself is permanent; the time will come when we will have to let things go (hence the beached whale, perhaps?).
But rather than let thoughts of the latter weigh you down too much, why not head over to Cica’s installation, grab yourself her free starfish wearable pet, and have a little fun amongst the Sandcastles?