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David Hastie - The Secluded Stage: Jennie Savage

A dialogue was immediately set up between materials. Rough dark timber structures challenged the viewer to enter the intimate space; a wall of hay bales invited you to hide inside them. The promise of sanctuary. Between these two extremes lay a small platform - a secluded stage? On the stage lay a cardboard castle reminiscent of king Rollo-style animation. In this small space - between foreboding structures of make-do carpentry and the wall of hay bales the viewer experienced a feeling reminiscent of childhood or was it, perhaps, simply a powerful feeling of place? The castle was a set of walls among walls. What lay within the castle? Was it merely a replica plaything or a vessel for secrets locked up? lnside this dark intimate space the viewer was given a choice of fight or flight. Stand and face your demons or run and hide in the hay. Have a screaming tantrum or an adult conversation. Hastie created a place where he and the viewer could re-look at life from the safety of a haven. A place which on the surface seemed falsely tranquil.

The analogy of toys and childhood had been drawn out of the work, but an uncertain, dark feeling was far stronger and much harder to articulate. The environment enveloped you as you entered the space, which was far more indicative of childish feelings than the scattered signs that lay about. It was a mixed feeling that wandered between security and facing up to harsh reality.

'The Secluded Stage' was an intensely personal piece of work, yet once inside its belly it felt as though it belonged to the viewer equally. The work was autonomous in that it allowed the viewer to take authorship over that space and enter into a collective experience of childhood.

There were obvious Freudian analogies in the work. However a more powerful association came from the landscape. The materials used had universal and immediate links with the country, the roughly put together wood, neatly stacked, rich smelling hay and the dimly lit space reminiscent of old barns. The scale of the work was very physical and related to the body as a sheer mass of heavy large objects, which in turn dwarfed the castle on the stage. The immediate feeling was of being inside, of being part of the landscape.

But, the timber wasn't really that big and I didn't think I would fit through the hole in the hay. The stage didn't really hold my weight. The scale of the work was relative to a child. The slight scaling down was barely noticeable and tapped into a subconscious memory of childish feelings. Of going back to a safe place. Just for a moment the work took me there.

David Hastie - The Secluded Stage: Jennie Savage: AN: 2000