I think I have made up this word. 

I love shadow boxes, tiny hidden drawers, treasure boxes, nooks and crannies.  I am drawn to shrines, altars and funerary niches.  When I first laid eyes on the hermit caves in the weathered rock walls of the Lower Mustang valley and saw Robert Powell’s paintings of those in the Upper Mustang I got goose bumps. 

Collections tell a story about the collector.  As  a collector you reveal what is sacred or special to you.  Or what helps you to make it through the day.  I am exploring this for my exhibition next year and I have been allowing my altarniches to evolve.  

My research reveals that shrines honour a particular idea of person and are places to meditate or pray (in many different religious traditions.)  I see them as places where an arrangement of items helps to focus your thoughts; I don’t see them as objects to be worshipped but as part of a place where you reflect and focus.  Have a look at some of of Robyn Gordon’s  favourites and she references Australia’s Rosalie Gascoigne. 

Altars (I read) are more of a working area.  For me, an altar is a place where you remember ideas or practices or people that help you to live better.  Or that reminds you about a special experience or place.  In my work at the moment, altars have been morphing with hermit caves, shadow boxes and funerary niches (like these at Otuzco.  I couldn’t put the photo in but do look at them).  Hence…altarniches.  And they change so they could just as easily be called alterniches!

It surprised me a bit that others share my fascination and there are quite a few artists loosely using the notion of shrines or altars as a framework for their art.  Lisa Vollrath describes them as a self contained expression of a single thought or theme.  

Last year in Adelaide I was entranced by the The Followers  by Ximena Garrido-Lecca, an installation that was part of the Saatchi Exhibition at the SA Art Gallery.

 It is going to be interesting to explore this I think.  My preliminary efforts are humbly presented here for my readers’ interest!

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