Isabella Stewart Gardner + Mood
Visiting the Gardner I was met by the surprise of darkness-- it was much darker inside the rooms and halls than I'd envisioned. The atmosphere was not an outright, bright conjuring of art and airy interior, but instead the light was restricted to the central focal point, the innermost interior, the courtyard. Drawn immediately to the center, a tendency I have with people and conversations, and seeking the most natural elements, the plants, I spent most of my time contemplating this space. What a living heart for an otherwise stone and cold structure.
Reading more literature on the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner, lead me to a perceived insight about her character. She endured much grief in her lifetime, and recovered, at the inspiration of art, to such an extent she became such a presence to society that she was referred to as "the idol of the men and the envy of the women". Isabella turned trauma into art. A consideration of her life's events reflects that art gave her a relief from [life's] cold hands. A courtesy, a relief she lent back with her collection. This cycle is shown in her curation. The heavy ornateness of her wooden furnishings, the density in her oil painting, the cloaked nature of the tapestry. that which she seemed to hide or heal through art was also conveyed through it too.
As you move through the museum, designed after the Poldi Pezzoli Palace in Milan, you will notice the somber resplendence that the stone and space of the place exudes. The light seems to find its way, in slivers, into the rooms by way of the courtyard's glass ceiling, and it shifts as the day progresses. I sat on a bench in one of her hall's, the "Tapestry Room" on the second floor, and watched the way it came into and across the room, an event in itself. In coincidental fashion, the book beside me on the bench: "The Language of Flowers". I picked it up and contemplated coincidences.
As I moved through the rest of the rooms, and waves of guests visiting the Gardner, I drew a few lines of Isabella to myself. It seems we both had a penchant for curating light out of the dark. A love for the plants was a happy obvious. I wondered if she wandered around the courtyard at night, or did her reading during the day there, I certainly would. It's hard to find better company for working + dreaming than flowers and plants. The foliage is tediously maintained and changed seasonally, I had read somewhere up to nine times a year! Considering further the metaphor of this court of plants and flowers being akin to a heart, my mind went away for a time. What do the seasons of the heart look like? Mustn't they need the same maintenance? I contemplated further the darkness of the exterior, wings and limbs of the space, as well as the central radiance and I drew the line to my floral design, how it carries the texture of a shadow, a dark element, but it is born of light. Connection and inspiration come from curation of the physical world and the energetics of a space. I am happy to have met Isabella's spirit in this way.