Review: Frances Disley, Pattern Buffer
Bluecoat

Words & Images, Sophia Charuhas

What do we do to feel better about ourselves? In her installation, Pattern Buffer, Frances Disley explores this question by creating a relaxing environment for visitors to immerse themselves.

Liverpool based, Francis Disley is an artist and performer who focuses her work on what we do to feel better about ourselves, while avoiding the elitism of conventional beauty. She has exhibited at many venues around Liverpool and across the country. She was co-director of The Royal Standard 2012-2014 and participated in Liverpool Biennial 2016.

Disley combines self-conducted research into the psychology of architectural spaces with playful references to fiction and fantasy. The title of the installation, “Pattern Buffer,” is borrowed from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation” in which the pattern buffer is part of a virtual reality system that allows crew members to travel into worlds of their imagination without ever leaving the spaceship. The characters on the show often chose to travel to lush green spaces, so Disley brought this idea together with her knowledge of how different colours and plants affect human moods.

The result was nested plants in the walls, in moulded tree stumps, and in window nooks of the gallery space. These plants include various types of epiphytes – plants that can grow atop other plants without causing harm to either party. The result is a relaxing environment that invites quiet reflection.

Other relaxing activities that visitors may participate in include piecing together puzzles, playing dominoes, and watching a video of a hairstylist decorating her friend’s hair. Upstairs, two hypnotic videos play film of burning incense, coaxing the viewer to sit and watch awhile.

Many related events are scheduled to take place while this installation is up, including multiple guided visualisations, a lecture on the psychology of green spaces, some children and family activities, as well as various mindfulness and meditative events. Some of these events are free; others cost £3-6 per person. Consult the Bluecoat website for more information.

This family-friendly, botanical installation is free and open to the public 11:00am-6:00pm daily, through the 21st of June.