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Review: Judy Woodborne – Persephone’s Garden


Judy woodborneJudy Woodborne’s 2010 diptych ‘The Days of Our Lives are Written in the Heavens Above’, which reveals Adam and Eve as ethereal beings composed of star material, can be seen as an elegant summary of the nature of the spirit that guides her hand.

The melting of male and female polar opposites to create an ocean where shoals of cosmic fish flicker through eternity – this is the base matter of the dreams with which Woodborne tantalizes the viewer.

Woodborne’s new exhibition at the Cape Gallery is a departure from the yin/yang dynamics of the him/her wheel. It is a soft deliberation on self love, where the inner world is a gentle aquatic place of solitude and strength.

Persephone and her annual migration between the world of Hades and the sunlit Earth, has been a common reference point in Woodborne’s work, a classic reflection on erotic mutability and duality, and the new episode in this exhibition, Persephone’s Garden, shows the heroine in silver and gold, floating between air and water. It is a meditation on self-reliance, independence and the re-evaluation of the psyche as a self-sustaining composite with its roots in spirit, mind and body.

An unusual gem and a marked deviation from the broad body of Woodborne’s previous work is a wonderfully brooding seascape ‘Stormy Sky & Sea’. Cruel clouds strangle a silver light that slips out to anoint the torrid ocean with lunar grace, underlining the calm spiritual retreat hinted at in the titles of her paintings.

‘Meditation on Water’ and ‘Samsara’ whisper of a feminine yearning for an inner ocean calm, and for completion of the self without the bruising of the hard rocks of dependency.

Jaroslav Kalac

Judy Woodborne’s Persephone’s Garden is at the Cape Gallery, Cape Town from 4 to 27 September 2014.


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