The Tiny Kingdom, 2000
wood and mixed media
411.5 x 121.9 x 121.9 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 40789)
Myfanwy MacLeod's artistic practice is informed and inspired by popular culture - in particular, film. The source for this structure is the outhouse featured in the film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (MGM, 1968). MacLeod culled the piece of architecture from its flat cinematic existence and recreated it in the three-dimensional now of the real world.
"The Tiny Kingdom" was conceived as an architectural "folly" for the grounds of an imaginary monarch. MacLeod introduces the outhouse in order to mock the tradition of the "hermitage", which, according to 18th-century British landscape conventions, was a rustic structure where one went to contemplate. The artist has commented on the piece:
"My ersatz retreat evokes the spectre of the hermit to perform the traditional functions as eye piece / mouth piece of the artist/poet. My intention was to create a burlesque of man's perennial need to discover himself among natural solitude."
Intended to function as a place of reflection and solitude, the structure foregrounds the anxious relations between artist and society, country and city, colony and imperialist nation. Here, Myfanwy MacLeod's exploration of artistic tradition and popular culture creates a work that is both humorous and critical.