Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Wonderland Excavations II

Painting the White Roses Red (inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) – Lacquered burlwood frame; dried white rose; red paint; white wax; custom cut mat; colour print from the original illustration by Sir John Tenniel; colour print of grunge hearts; colour print of dripping red paint

And then she found herself at last in the beautiful garden, among the bright flower-beds and the cool fountains.

The beautiful garden that so entranced Alice is now nothing more than an overgrown thicket. Neglected, abandoned, nature has reclaimed that which was once originally hers. The fountains have long since dried up; their pipes rusted, their marble basins splintered and silvered, where weeds flourish in the ever-expanding cracks. The manicured trees, the pruned boxwoods, and the carefully-tended topiaries have gone wild, their tidy geometric shapes scarcely distinguishable from the rest of the tangled wood. Cypresses sway, taking leisurely, theatrical bows prompted by each passing breeze. In the distance stands the dome of a massive orangery, its metalwork bent and twisted, a steel skeleton barely supporting its last few unbroken panes of glass. And surrounding all is a confusion of rosebushes—once the pride of the garden they, too, have proliferated untamed, untrimmed, their branches a cat’s cradle of thorns. Here and there, lost in the leafy turmoil, can be found the heads of a few withered white roses, their dried husks mottled, splashed and splattered with red paint; the haphazard and hurried brushstrokes of a trio of living playing cards a testament to the frantic correction of an error long past—

“Would you tell me, please,” said Alice, a little timidly, “why you are painting those roses?”
Five and Seven said nothing, but looked at Two. Two began, in a low voice, “Why, the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a red rose-tree, and we put in a white one by mistake, and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have our heads cut off…”

Gardeners in threat of being deadheaded; much like the flowers they care for—that’s pure Wonderland logic.