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Aglaia Konrad


WELCOME. D!NG is an online art magazine by Jolien Dirix

mireille schellhorn















THE PLACES A Home for Alice - A Vision of Paradise is part of my research into the "People-Plant- Relationships" (1)— the role of plants in human culture. I've found the origin of this culture-nature relationship within Victorian landscape architecture, specifically glass houses, or — a Victorian conservatory. For the first time in contemporary history, the conservatory created a building especially for plants and their particular needs on the one side, and on the other side, a place of pleasure and amusement for people. "As an increasingly common but distinctive social space, the conservatory was balanced, sometimes literally and always symbolically, between culture (formal reception room) and nature (the garden)." (2) In these conservatories plants became easily cultivated, controlled and nurtured. In 19th century paintings, the conservatory was likely used as a symbol of protection and enclosure. (3) To set plants under glass gives them excellent conditions to prosper and grow and to be displayed at the same time. Thus, these garden rooms functioned as a kind of showroom for imported exotic and tropical plants (4) — nestled in a variety of grottos, fountains, artificial rock works, statuary and tree ferns, the plants were on display in a most flattering and glamorous surrounding, providing entertainment for the audience as well.



in a victorian country house The novels Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, written in the mid 19th century, by Lewis Carroll, have their historical background in Victorian England. Thus, Alice’s “Looking-glass House” is really a Victorian Country House and all other settings in the story have to be seen in relation to this historical period as well. In analyzing Victorian novels, the house is often used as a metaphor for a place of origin. The image of the house is filled with double meaning, both a place of origin and a burden for the main character, like Alice’s Looking-glass House.(5) “… I’ll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. First, there’s the room you can see through the glass— that’s just the same as our drawing-room, only the things go the other way.” (6) In a Victorian Country House of the 19th century the drawing-room was “the Lady’s Apartment essentially” (7). One of the key functions of the drawing-room, beside the aspects of entertainment and communication, was to enable the ladies to withdraw. Generally located between the salon and the dining-room,

enable the ladies to withdraw. Generally located between the salon and the diningroom, the architectural purpose of the drawing-room was to provide access to the outside, both in social and in spatial terms “The proper aspect for a DrawingRoom must, of course, be such as to meet sunshine and mild weather, so that the ladies may enjoy the most free and direct communication with the open air” (8). With this external approach in mind, the drawing-room was ideally situated southeast in a Country-House and opened on to the parkland, a lawn, the flower-garden or terrace to enjoy nature, the morning sun or go for a ‘Lady’s Walk’. (9) In some houses the drawing-room led into an adjoining Victorian conservatory where “Victorian advances in glass and iron technology often made it a building of great size and richness”. (10) This spatial lean-to-house extended the living room and enabled options for receptions, such as tea parties.


with a view

A significant concept in Victorian architecture was bringing the garden into the house. So in addition to the use of a conservatory, it was the view from the drawing room that established a connection to nature. Therefore the ideal drawing-room was fitted with a large glass-front of ground-level windows to have a proper view and had casements to enable opening to the garden. It was the prospect, the view outside, and thus also in a figurative sense, access to another imaginary world, which determined the character of this room. (11) Lewis Carroll placed the drawingroom in his novel as a passage between the real Victorian life and Alice’s imaginary Wonderland. The Looking-Glass, the mirror, was an essential element in the interior design of a drawing-room and provided Alice a reflecting portal into an imaginary world. Alice reaches Wonderland in the first chapter of Through the Looking-Glass by passing through a Looking-Glass up on a chimney-piece. “…if you leave the door of our drawing-room wide open: and it’s very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty, how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get

into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s p has got all soft like gauze, so through. “ p.127 (12) There, on the other side of the in Alice’s Wonderland is the ga Queen. Like a Victorian garden, i as a visual equivalent to a kind redemption. It’s the garden Alic (13), while she passes through of natural and picturesque Eng for instance “the Wood (…) where names” (14) or “The Garden of Here the prospect of a beautifu couraged by a conversation with “I only wanted to see what the your Majesty––––” “That’s right,” said the Queen, the head, which Alice didn’t like when you say ‘garden’––I’ve see pared with which this would be a Alice didn’t dare to argue the on:”––and I thought I’d try and the top of that hill––––”(15)


pretend the glass that we can get

e Looking-Glass, arden of the Red it should be seen d of paradise and ce is looking for h different kinds glish landscapes e things have no f Live Flowers”. ul garden is enthe Red Queen: garden was like,

, patting her on e at all:”though, en gardens, coma wilderness.” point, but went d find my way to

into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. “ p.127 (12) There, on the other side of the Looking-Glass, in Alice’s Wonderland is the garden of the Red Queen. Like a Victorian garden, it should be seen as a visual equivalent to a kind of paradise and redemption. It’s the garden Alice is looking for (13), while she passes through different kinds of natural and picturesque English landscapes for instance “the Wood (…) where things have no names” (14) or “The Garden of Live Flowers”. Here the prospect of a beautiful garden is encouraged by a conversation with the Red Queen: “I only wanted to see what the garden was like, your Majesty––––” “That’s right,” said the Queen, patting her on the head, which Alice didn’t like at all:”though, when you say ‘garden’––I’ve seen gardens, compared with which this would be a wilderness.” Alice didn’t dare to argue the point, but went on:”–– and I thought I’d try and find my way to the top of that hill––––”(15) –––– From the top of that hill Alice will have a good prospect, the best view of seeing all the possibilities around her. She’s on the right path to open up a wide spectrum of opportunities to develop herself and the natural landscape might provide an escape, another home - outside the Victorian Country house.


thoughtfully to herself, "where things have no names. I wonder what'll become of my name when I go in?" (15) See p. 140: TtLG: Chapter I, Looking-Glass House

last in the beautiful garden, among the bright flowerbeds and the cool fountains." (14) See p. 152: TtLG: Chapter I, Looking-Glass House "This must be the wood," she said

garden. Then she set to work eating the pieces of mushroom till she was about fifteen inches high: then she walked down the little passage: and then — she found herself at

close to the little glass table: "now, I'll manage better this time" she said to herself, and began by taking the little golden key, and unlocking the door that led into the

right into it. "That's very curious!" she thought, but everything's curious today: I may as well go in." And in she went. Once more she found herself in the long hall, and

again: the next thing is, to get into that beautiful garden — how is it to be done, I wonder?" Just at she said this, she noticed that one of the trees had a doorway leading

(12) See p. 127: TtLG: Chapter I, Looking-Glass House (13) See p. 277: AAiW: Chapter VII, A Mad Tea-Party, p.67/68 & AAUG: Chapter III "However, I've got to my right size

disposition of a Drawing-room; and certainly it must always be matter for regret if this room cannot be made to look out upon the very best view that the house commands."

lished by Yale University Press 1978 (11) See p. 109: Robert Kerr, The Gentleman's House "Prospect is generally held to be the most important of all considerations in the

Walk, which may be very much approved." (10) See p. 292: Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House, The Moral House: 1830-1900 Penguin Books 1980, London, First pub-

only slightly elevated (not necessarily balustraded), and of the readiest possible connection with the Lawn, it will constitute, as an adjunct of the Drawing-Room, a Lady's

always taken into account as to might be. If a Terrace be formed, however, let it be strictly private; that is to say, private by reason of its conditions of plan; and if

not in a manner interpose a barrier to that communication between the Drawing-Room and the Lawn, which is so much valued as matter of domestic enjoyment, is not, perhaps,

which no doubt is an admirable feature in landscape-gardening, as well as architectural design; but whether such a Terrace (at least in massive Classic forms of design) does

must face upon open Lawn or Flower-Garden, or, what is perhaps best, a combination of both. In superior houses a Terrace is frequently formed along the Drawing-Room front,

Cambridge University Press 2012, Edition first published 1864, London (9) See p. 125: Robert Kerr, The Gentleman's House "In respect of external position the Drawing-room

man's House, The Day-Rooms, Chapter V. Drawing-Room

in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there, The Centenary Edition, Penguin Classics 1998, London (7) (8) See p. 119-120: Robert Kerr, The Gentle-

and Stephen Daedalus at the conclusion of their perspective labyrinthine journeys." (6) See p. 123: TtLG: Chapter I, Looking-Glass House. Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures

sequence of the search for meaning and identity. And Looking-Glass House is as much a part of the nineteenth century as the mirroring portraits that stare out at Dorian Gray

journey in the Adventures in Wonderland to her posture in Through the Looking-Glass is more comprehensible: domestication within a veritable mansion of mirrors is the con-

an incest with the past and manifested as the Gothic. If, indeed, this pattern is an inevitable feature of the novel in the nineteenth century, then the shift from Alice's

Howards End, to name just a few–have a way of being either domesticated into horrible middle-class apartments or degenerated into the whispering, echoing ghosts born from

tyrannical as those who originally rescued him and set him to work. All those novels lent their names by houses– Wuthering Heights, Waverly, Bleak House, Mansfield Park,

"One suspects that such is part of the unfinished nature of every journey in the nineteenth century, and that the inheritor of Victorian spaces may turn out to be just as

Phillips, Aspects of Alice:Lewis Carroll's Dreamchild as seen through the critics Looking-Glasses, 1865-1971, Edited by Robert Phillips, Vanguard Press 1971, USA

London, in about 1829 after an accidental discovery inspired him." (5) See p. 100: The Alice Books an the Metaphors of Victorian Childhood by Jan B. Gordon, 1971. Robert S.

Wardian case was the direct forerunner of the modern terrarium (and the inspiration for the glass aquarium), and was invented by Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791–1868), of

from overseas, the great majority of which had previously died from exposure during long sea journeys, frustrating the many scientific and amateur botanists of the time. The

"The Wardian case, was an early type of sealed protective container for plants, which found great use in the 19th Century in protecting foreign plants imported to Europe

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wardian_case. On the growth of plants in closely glazed cases, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, London 1841

windowsills." (4) Another glass object, similar to a vitrine, was invented in this century and enables to bring exotic nature into civilization: the Wardian Case. http://

way painters of domestic garden scenes, especially those with women, used symbols of protection and enclosure associated with the glass-house: birdcages, flowers in pots on

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C. 2002 (3) See p. 277/278:Margaret Flanders Darby, Joseph Paxton's Water Lily "I have written elsewhere of the


p. 277: Margaret Flanders Darby, Joseph Paxton's Water Lily. Extract from Bourgeois and Aristocratic Culture. Encounters in Garden Art, 1550-1850, edited by Michael Conan,

(1) People-Plant Relationships: Setting Research Priorities. Joel Flagler, Raymond P. Poincelot, editors, Food products Press, NY USA1994. Reprinted 2009 by CRC Press (2) See

L aure




The skin is a covering membrane that holds us together, protects us. It is our outside, it offers us a face, a consistency to an invisible inside. By the space it creates between me and an other a gap appears, a misunderstand-ing. The skin is felt as a prison because it restrains, it doesn’t show what I want to be. It betrays the thought and limits the body. It’s an other one that cannot be controlled, with which we must struggle. I try to question these boundaries, to model this elastic mass and to reclaim the body. The skin becomes a place for action, a place for writing. In my drawings, the naked and androgynous body becomes a space I’m fighting against in the blank of the page. The pencil stroke is like the skin, a porous frontier. The orifice is full or empty, the lines of the body move. They disappear, are divided and are recomposed. The hair and the clothes become surfaces and extensions of the body. The sex, the mouth and the hand create the tension point. The sheet of paper gets pierced and loses its opacity, the moment before the loss of virginity. The skin stretches, swells and empties. It covers and suffocates us. Within it, everything bumps and dislocates. The pain that comes from this battle is necessary as to better establish our limits. To hurt ourselves to be reassured of our existence and our consistence. To hurt ourselves in order to establish a unity between the inside and the outside, to re-gain control.

the naked and androgynous body becomes a space i’m fighting against in the blank of the page.








Dieter Debruyne treats us with a cool but melancholic view upon the entrails of public buildings after closing hours. He registers how objects develop their own mute semantics in the seemingly endless time when people aren’t there or when they simply aren’t looking. His photographic world of empty spaces is stripped of people, but certainly not of humanity. On the contrary, in this absence of people,...history becomes present. In his images he shows you traces that lead you back into time, lapsing over generations.

Text by

peter waterschoot













“In wordless dialogue and slow movement, I experience the freedom of independent dependence.�



N RT T V V. T U M B L R . C O M





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D!NG #8  

D!NG #8 with Mireille Schellhorn, Laure Foret, Dieter Debruyne and Karen Vantvelt. Online magazine by Jolien Dirix

D!NG #8  

D!NG #8 with Mireille Schellhorn, Laure Foret, Dieter Debruyne and Karen Vantvelt. Online magazine by Jolien Dirix

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