Alive in glorious technicolour, The Journey to Emerald City has long been one of my favourite Kerry Darlington painting’s. Embroidered with a truly staggering amount of detail, the picture took the artist months of solid dedication to transform the yellow brick road from paint splatted palette to intricate masterpiece. The stand-alone painting created in 2013 was inspired by the classic American novel by L. Frank Baum The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and marks the start of Dorothy’s adventure with Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. These faithful companions whose spirits and desire to improve themselves drive her towards the wizard’s residence in the sparkling green city in the search for compassion, intelligence, bravery and of course for Dorothy herself to find a way home.
A very honest and distinguishable moral compass lives in the Land of Oz in which the heroes wear ruby slippers and pigtails, and the forces of evil have bewitched green faces quickly followed by troops of winged monkeys. The four friends (and of course not forgetting Toto at their heels) embody a very particular kind of wholesomeness which transcends generations. This is where innocent insecurities motivate self-improvement in stark contrast to a society obsessed with image consciousness. Of course, we the audience gazing at Darlington’s vision of this classic novel already know what the adventurers are yet to discover; that their heart’s desires already exist within themselves. True beauty isn’t skin deep.
Kerry Darlington has long been an advocate of believing in oneself; the pioneer of the use of resin which is now a trademark of her distinct original paintings and sell out unique limited editions. This new medium led her to battle against a contemporary art market too used to seeing yet another paper print behind glass. Forging ahead the first original paintings to hang in galleries were just a start of what was to come in the years ahead. Following on from her remarkable Tree of Life series, illustrative portrayals of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, Darlington relished the opportunity to take on the cultural mythology which sits around the classic 1939 film starring Judy Garland.
Four years after release, answering the phones at Wyecliffe Galleries I am still asked daily about the Journey to Emerald City although the original title has long been sold out and is rarely available on the secondary market. Its’ long awaited follow up edition launching July 2017 has just been announced, after a wait so long fans had all but given up the thought that it would come to fruition.
This new unique edition in Kerry Darlington’s Wizard of Oz series sees our champions further along their quest and several chapters on. Having crept through the Haunted Forest, passing signs urging them to turn back to avoid the Witches Castle, the gang led by Dorothy Gale have all but stepped back into the sunlit path of the Yellow Brick Road. Our heroine points to the now nearby Emerald City basking under a fully formed rainbow.
Bordering the scene, the foursome are not entirely out of the woods yet where Darlington has crafted toadstools sitting large underneath curling, reaching branches to the left and right of the composition. Sneaking into the fray is the Wicked Witch of the West with her recognisable red and white stocking legs dangling from a left tree, carefully watched by Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in her bubble on the right. Stretching out ahead are the flower stretching fields and the way to their dreams.
Chatting with individuals across the world, I hear stories about how the Wizard of Oz entered their lives. One client told me of being sat down in the front of the family’s new television as a young child and witnessing a full colour screen for the first time; a surprise transformation from the billowing grey tornadoes of Kansas to the dazzling rainbow of singing munchkins. Now an adult, the Kerry Darlington interpretation now hangs in her home, a permanent reminder of the astonishment and delight of a well-organised present by her father.
The stories that clients have shared with me have a common theme – Darlington artworks hanging in family homes, rekindling memories of happy times. The works themselves also helping to create nostalgic feelings for the next generation of art lovers. As it turns out, Dorothy was right….there really is no place like home, especially if it has a Kerry Darlington painting hanging on it’s walls.
The new unique edition from the Wizard of Oz series is available to pre-order here
For more information about original paintings and sketches from the Wizard of Oz collection please contact us and don’t forget the Wyecliffe Galleries team are always here to help over phone, email or in gallery….