I have always loved doll’s houses. In those safe little rooms I could imagine an ordered world. I could look through the windows, back into the real world, and be a stranger to it. As I grew older, the walls of the doll’s house became the edges of the canvas. Paintings are the windows through which I regard life.
Dioramas, like doll’s houses, are a form of stilled life, which often allude to an Arcadian time, where humans were less disembodied by technology. Human attempts to represent reality are driven by a need to carve out a safe, more simple space within it. Wallace Stevens said, ‘reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor’. To grasp at life as it rushes by, maybe we have to pursue this paradox: we exist in metaphorical space.
In this series of paintings, the insertion of an overarching box acts like the red rope stretched across the front of the diorama. It transforms landscapes into distilled miniatures. As in the addictive realm of the basement train-set or doll’s house, time does not exist, there is no place for the body except in the imagination, and there is no connection to the outside world.
It’s shocking to realise that the world is only visible to us through these filters. But there is relief in it too. Inside the box, you can enjoy the idea that any representation is a formal pretense, a powerful illusion, a fantasy.