Scent of A Rose Chamber

Albury Regional Art Gallery, Albury, NSW

Lingering/Scent of a Rose chamber
by Charlotte Teek

We find ourselves stopped, for more than a moment, on the familiar piece of carpet outside the room that has become Lyn Plummer's Rose Chamber. Around us: the clean blacks and whites of the photograph collection. Ahead: a flaming sense of orange glimpsed through the partly opened double doors. Look in deeper. Delicate drapes are floating from a ladder that curves up against the back wall. I, being armed with a note book and in search of comment on this puzzle, head for the visitor's book. " Loved the dragon ... love to hate it ... love it.." and so on. Hands and voices by the dozen, populating the space. Close the book and they fade. Next we are in front of the welded throne, trying to get a better look and accidentally genuflecting in the process. We see metal chemicals leeching off the throne’s legs into pools of water, rose oil and clotted paint. Roses bud and bloom at intervals. Are they deliberately artificial? Red cords flow out from under the pools and to two side ladders that dangle drapes. Are these robes taking lifeblood from the throne or is the throne taking lifeblood from its supporters? Unanswerable. We move to the drapes, attracted by their rich colours and motifs. Close up, the birds and dragons lose something of their glamour and nothing of their power. We see the brushstrokes. The handwork. It's the same with the initials and the roses nailed to boards on the walls. Fine work, but work of human hand nonetheless. We make it close up to those first golden drapes and find them horrifically weighted with gum and paint (red and gold). The gauzy and ephemeral is now something that seems to have been flayed. No nice round cords here. Stripped and torn, sinew-like things trail up behind the throne. I spot roses laid in a bunch behind me, I see roses placed like a memorial posy ahead, there is a circlet of roses on the seat of the throne. Suddenly the smell overwhelms me and I grab my notebook and run. After half an hour in the Scent of a Rose Chamber I have remembered. Pain is the scent of an essential oil.

Charlotte Teek ©
April 1999