kendal murray

Stage Whispers

Arthouse Gallery 09/03/2011

In the sculptural artwork in the exhibition "Stage Whispers", the miniature actors seem to "whisper" their own particular story to the audience, inviting us to invest in a point of view and the character's perceived personalities, through our reading of their intentions and the actions taking place. We are too big to be part of the scene, but become the narrator of these intimate scenarios through our own close observations. We read the implied relationships between each of the characters and the social contexts in which they exist, and invest our own desires into the pleasurable outcomes of the stories being told.

Within the glass walls of a round teapot we see a tree overhanging a secluded spot on the banks of a river that provides the miniature landscape in the artwork "Fanciful Flight, Summer Delight". There is a rowing boat lodged in the branches of the tree, with two boys taking advantage of its position above the river to throw out their fishing lines. We think of the wonderfully imagined adventures the young boys enjoy in this flying boat, in this secluded place they have made their own. Only the audience seems to be aware of the intrusion into this idyllic scene by another group of people who are looking forward to the refreshing swim to be enjoyed in the river; and we begin to imagine the effect of this discovery on the boys and the intruders themselves.

There is a kind of wish fulfilment that takes place as we fantasise as to what will happen in each scenario, and identify with what we understand to be happening to each of the characters. We bring our own life experiences and dreams to bear in our interpretations. We strike up relationships with the characters, and offer our point of view about the situations they find themselves in. We become involved with the story telling, and find personal meaning in the stories we are telling ourselves which are constructed as dreamlike tales, often melodramatic and comedic fantasies within fantasy scenarios.

The art work "Bride Wide Eyed, Horse Ride, Inside" shows a miniature scene of a suburban lounge and dining room, complete with family and pet dog. It is a scene we are all familiar with; the teenager on the lounge in front of the TV with the pet dog barking for her attention, the mother holding a basket of washing, talking to the teenager. To our surprise the father figure who has found some extra washing, is dressed in a cowboy outfit and is atop a horse, seemingly with the intention of depositing the missing washing in the washing basket held by his wife, as he and the horse get ready to leap off the dining room table. As we engage with the scene being presented to us, we might choose to consider it as either comedic or dramatic. This will of course depend on the personal experiences we bring to the reading of the relationships on display in the artwork and what we perceive to be happening. There is an opportunity to identify with each of the characters in the scene and imagine the unique story they each might tell.

"Fair Weather Get Together" is a small bejewelled compact that can be held in the palm of your hand. A secluded sandy beach is the perfect spot for romance. With the waves lapping at their feet the intensity of the rendezvous becomes evident. There's a voyeur overseeing this very private scene. It might be the giant onlookers whose wishes for the couple might come true or it could be the dog that's strayed into the romantic scene and keeps watch.

It will depend on the character we identify with as to whether we laugh or sigh with recognition. Imagined role-play is introduced to the viewing experience, as we fantasise or even remember what it is like to be part of a particular situation. In our imaginations we take up the cause of that character, and identify with what we imagine they are whispering to us, and it's through this experience that we access our own dreams and wishes.

Kendal Murray, 2012.