The snails in the courtyard

by Sen, Jacqueline and Sonja    


Nineteen snail forms
-Move your mouse over the image-
When a hand appears, then click for a closer view of a snail.

In the spring of 2000, seven year old Tamatea brought home a snail as his pet. Soon he had 4 snails. Then he set about training them to move faster or to move in particular routes and especially to listen to him.

Fascinated by this, the three of us chose the snail as our "character" for the installation work, "Dans le jardin
des beaux arts "

We settled on 19 snail forms varying in size from a metre to a few centimetres. All carry spiralling texts alluding to time and perspective. The texts look at these issues from various viewpoints, in an order and tempo chosen by the viewer.

-click on the image to a closer view- 

The text on the snail at the bottom reads:

"The tide was a million kilometres wide and its noise was like deafening thunder. It was a continuum of past, present, and future, filled with creatures of darkness and creatures of light which swam, divided, united and swam again."

The snails were made out of thin black vinyl which moulded to ground, showing -depending on the irregularity of the bricks- the patterns of the bricks through the forms.

The above text from the book, "The Dream Swimmer"  by the New Zealand author, Witi Ihimaera, conjures up magical worlds in various time-frames with nature at its centre.

Nineteen snail forms  

Another theme in the texts in this work is the relationships between art, nature and culture.

The materiality of the snails contrasts with the "naturalness" of the courtyard and can be read as "black holes" or "negative spaces," like bites taken out of the cultivated space.

   Nineteen snail forms
When exhibited in a white walled gallery space, the association of "negative spaces"
was visually more obvious.  See this installation in 2000.

Box-house on the drain pipe high on left wall: Jacqueline Wassen.
Centre: (in rose window): cloth sculpture by Jessy Rahman
Boardroom window: The Gifts of Time Mail Art Project.
Lamp: Collages by Joke Elzinga

Click on a text below to view that snail form

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