Publishing house Art & Australia invited Del Kathryn Barton to produce a series of works back in 2010 that would reinterpret a classic fairytale, so Del Kathryn, being a big fan of Oscar Wilde, chose his 1888 story The Nightingale and the Rose. For those who aren't familiar with the story, a nightingale (ie: a bird) overhears a male student saying that his professor's daughter will not dance with him because he cannot find a red rose to give to her.
The nightingale feels for the poor student, and tries to find a red rose for him, but soon discovers that the only way to procure one is to sacrifice her life and use her heart's blood to dye the rose red (children's stories sure were different in the 1800's, weren't they?), which she does. The student brings the rose to the professor's daughter, but she rejects him once again because someone else gave her jewels and "everybody knows that jewels cost far more than flowers".
There are far more details to the story, which Del Kathryn brought to life with the help of Australian filmmaker Brendan Fletcher, but I don't want to give it all away.
|The Professor's Daughter|
I can only imagine how it would have felt to see this exhibition had I been familiar with Wilde's work and the story of The Nightingale; literally seeing the story come to life through a series of gorgeous paintings and animations would have been practically mind blowing, but nonetheless, the exhibition is still beautiful even when you go in completely blind-sighted and unfamiliar with its topic.
Plus, I am a strong believer that art can just be appreciated, and that it doesn't always have to be understood.
The Nightingale and the Rose exhibition will be at ACMI until the 11th of September.
Until next time,