Journeying through the forest with Virgil

The poet Dante was guided by Virgil through the layers of Purgatory, Hell and Heaven..

A public space installation of a group of ladders resembling a forest. Created after reading some of the journey that Dante took with Virgil as his guide, after he became lost in a forest of life choices… They journeyed through the underworld; beginning in hell, eventually passing through purgatory; ultimately reaching heaven.


I was interested in the symbolism of ladders and the metaphor for succeeding in life always being signalled by ascension. Rising up, climbing up, reaching the top are desirable outcomes. Yet being lost among the choices is an often present reality, the journey of ascension comes at the price of leaving choice behind.

I also took into consideration the European wide known saying: that pride comes before the fall; the higher we reach the deeper we can fall. ..

In my work I investigate and play with philosophies of life, I don’t aim to prescribe a final reading or to make a conclusive statement. Rather I prefer the story telling quality of creating a space where imagination and questions can be welcome.



From Babylonian times man has striven to reach the skies, to equal or rival divinity. So we continue to climb today still. Be it to reach goodness in life, be it in arrogance in the belief of our individual or collective supremacy (political for example, also see Babel as a reference…), be it in the hope that things will improve from bad to better or good to greater. We may seek love or status in society, godly/ divine blessing.

The aim is always upwards, ascent. The ladder describes an unstable, un-secured journey, the higher one reaches on it, the more risky, the more treacherous the fall, a journey, also, that at its end may lead to nothing… or to the heavens… this is open to interpretation. The ladder is the most immediate vehicle to ascent and in the way that I use it I also think of it as signifying the growth of trees, I make the ladder the tree in a forest which is created throughout our lives. (…)
To achieve an abstracted folk tale/ dreamlike/ readable but non-direct narrative with references to todays society’s focal points as well as to those of past times.

Below a couple of images from an exhibition developed to commission for the Liverpool Independents Biennial 2008. An outdoor interpretation of the forest was not possible, so I built an indoor one. :

materials: rolled paper, wallpaper paste, glue, dowels and marine plywood as a base.



2007 'Journey with Virgil' Installation

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