Wild Garden Of Childhood by Kathryn Oliver

Kathryn Oliver discovered a love for making pictures as a small child. Self-taught and driven by curiosity and passion her creative journey has repeatedly taken her into the field of metaphor and myth. With a professional arts background in painting, theater and dance she blends hints of all these elements into her images. Kathryn creates and exhibits black and white fine art photography and photo encaustics presenting her work in national and international shows.

"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter." I was sixteen when I memorized this Keats line from "Ode On A Grecian Urn" and I’ll never forget it.

Reflecting on my childhood, I trace an invisible thread pulling towards a wild and enchanted place. Inspired by personal experiences and the unfolding of my affinity with Keats’ poem, I began this series a year ago as two major forces constellated. One was my son leaving childhood and entering the young adult world and the other is reconnecting with my mother, bringing up my own early memories.

Impressions welled up and I realized that in childhood the dream world is still so close. Introspective and fertile, it is vast, full of wild imaginings, calling each of us with a unique voice. Our other foot is in the world of time and space, full of limitations and rules, determined by family, society, and all the dos and don’ts that accompany that, including the challenges of our own ineptitude. An inherent tension arises from this split and it is this which intrigues me.

The "sweeter, unheard melodies" echo that dream world of our own hearts, once so close to us in childhood, driving us with a yearning that can never be satisfied. Modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham affirms it as a necessary part of the creative process and calls it a “divine dissatisfaction,” a “blessed unrest.”

How do we reconcile with a world which will never deliver what we long for? I think it is simply in the reaching for it that meaning comes, the impetus for the creative act itself, and through it, as the artist well knows, new worlds are born.

Inspired by my subjects open innocence and unselfconscious freedom, I stage and improvise these pictures, seeking an internal self portrait of some mystery that I feel runs through every creative path, a combination of wild spirit and sacred yearning.

"Wild Garden Of Childhood" is my exploration into this fertile dream world, childhood dancing on the edge of innocence, tinged with a measure of melancholy, a sweetness in the sorrow for that fleeting essence of an "unheard melody."

All photos by Kathryn Oliver