red vine - etching monoprint, chine-collé, 48"x36"

red vine - etching monoprint, chine-collé, 48"x36"

plot planning - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x48"

plot planning - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x48"

memory puzzle - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x36"

memory puzzle - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x36"

the heart of the matter - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x36"

the heart of the matter - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x36"

growing roots - mixed media on canvas, 72"x36"

growing roots - mixed media on canvas, 72"x36"

flower shower - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x36"

flower shower - mixed print, chine-collé, 48"x36"

dark vine - etching, chine-collé, 48"x36"

dark vine - etching, chine-collé, 48"x36"

body map (my east, my west...) - mixed media on canvas, 72"x48"

body map (my east, my west...) - mixed media on canvas, 72"x48"

blind harvest - mixed media on canvas, 72"x36"

blind harvest - mixed media on canvas, 72"x36"

after the rain - etching monoprint relief, chine-collé, 48"x36"

after the rain - etching monoprint relief, chine-collé, 48"x36"

anna's apples - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

anna's apples - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

garden pear - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

garden pear - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

kasterlee elk - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

kasterlee elk - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

the neighbours - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

the neighbours - etching, chine-collé, 12"x12"

down the garden path

 

 

Down the Garden Path, solo show beside Pearl VanGeest’s solo show of the same title

Gallery Stratford  2006

 

 

essay by Virginia Eichhorn

 

By day she wooes me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
But thro’ the night, a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer

 

In this exerpt from The World by Christina Rosetti the reader is offered a cautionary
admonition not to stray from the righteous path – for seduction, and all that if offers can only
lead to woe. Poems, stories, songs, paintings and faerie tales all warned of the dangers
– especially to young women – of being “led down the garden path.” Ratcliff’s work is a
joyous and sensual repudiation of those fears though.

 

Everything about her work is tantalizing and beautiful in both composition and content. Her
paintings and works on paper are tempting and incite the viewer to continue in his or her
exploration. Her paintings are composed of large canvases with green underpainting and
many layers of delicate printed fine papers. This usage of multiple layers to build up the image
creates an overall effect of great depth and resonance. One is curious to see what lies beneath,
to find what else there is to discover.

 

And this is where her meaning becomes clear. In “wandering down a garden path” what one
finds with Ratcliff’s work is that there are no wolves in Grandma’s clothing or witches living in
dark forests. What we are given instead are beautiful aspects of the natural world. There is
much to be seen, discovered and to find joy in – especially our connection with nature around us.

 

Her use of the figurative form depicts humanity in a way that bespeaks of innocence and of
our integration with nature. The fragmentary nature of her work clearly indicates that rather
than one, there are many paths to choose from. Her work liberates us from the fear of the
unknown, reminding us that we are indeed part of nature and nature is part of us. Effectively,
Ratcliff’s evocative works celebrate a life filled with ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety.