Roberley Bell  

un]natural landscapes

Installation at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens, Norfolk, Virginia
September 4 through December 7, 2015

[un]natural: landscapes is installed both in the Hermitage gardens and with in the museum. For the interior Bell has installed her sculpture in direct dialogue with the museum's permanent collection of antique artifacts and decorative art objects. Taking over six of the Museum's galleries, the result is a fascinating new perspective on both the Hermitage's collection and Bell's sculpture.

Within the gardens Bell has installed two distinct projects in conversation with the landscape.

Locus Amoenus uses the Millstone Alley, a hidden garden on the edge of the river. The alley leads to a terrace, which is a nearly enclosed, secret space that becomes an outdoor "room" of its own, with a river view through a "window" in the brick wall.

Inspired by the historic use of the enclosed gardens {Hortus Conclusus} and the remains of a constructed landscape, Locus Amoenus plays with the blurred notion of inside and outside.

A chain-link house contains a growing tree that will change over time. The selection of chain-link fencing is symbolic of human manipulation of the natural environment by creating artificial boundaries. A bird sculpture, cast in plaster, positioned on an artificial cloud alongside the living tree references the real and the unnatural within the landscape.

Bright yellow "Topiary birdcages" flank the entrance to the alley and reference an aviary, which was once housed within this space. Playfully sitting on the limbs of forged trees, weathered cast birds show the effects of time.

On the front lawn of the museum a series of small floral gardens planted in the shape of clouds. Juxtaposed against the natural flowers are concrete lawn ornaments of deer and ducks. What I See When I Look Down sets the stage for an exhibition that mediates the boundary between the natural and artificial, both on the grounds and inside the museum.

       © 2016 Roberley Bell