Ana Maria Pacheco
Enchanted Garden, 2011-15
Relief, polychromed alabaster and mixed media
30 x 25 cm (varying depths)
This collection of eight alabaster reliefs is currently on exhibition on the balcony level of the Castle Keep at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.
Alabaster is a yielding stone, as stone goes, and its grain is peach-like, smooth, and intimate, so it came to be used for small, relief tablets, such as the Nottingham sculptures of the English tradition, which distill narratives into the confined space of the tablet, much in the same way as a sonnet is both constrained and enhanced by its space of fourteen lines. For an artist who more usually carves in wood life-size figures fully in the round, this self-appointed task was hard: but the alabaster has yielded to her hand with sensitive pliancy, so that the flames enveloping the Four Guardians twist and flicker, the sea ripples around the dragon swallowing his own tail, and the golden waves from which the siren rises are rolling over themselves in sumptuous and sensuous curls.