Day 3; Water Lily Adaptions


“Maija, you are the day, and I am the night!”

(Kimvi commenting on our work routines)

Following my last post about Day 1 in the Rotunda, I received some WhatsApp messages from my fellow collaborator Kimvi Nguyen. I am unlikely to see much of her in person during the project, as ‘life’ dictates a kind of tag team routine while I go in the morning and she after work, after dark. Her messages showed she had arrived, and after some difficulty accessing the building left me a surprise for me to find the next morning.

My second day on ‘lily-pad island’ was spent preparing my thoughts. I wrote a stream of consciousness on paper, in which I asked myself…

“Where am I in all of this?”

I began giving voice to the water all around me, “I am not the sky or the trees you see reflected here…” that sort of thing. And I remembered the membrane or ‘skin’ of the water. I noted it was the border between “above and below”.

Frankly, day 2 was miserable.

I thought I would enjoy having the space to myself but there was a lot of “what’s the point?” thoughts. I want to do something meaningful, and here was my mind going blah blah blah. It would be all to easy to do what comes naturally which is to bounce off other people, energise their work with sparks of inspiration and get lost in an entanglement of material dialogue. I love it, but I don’t need the Laboratory of Dissent to be able to do that.

In this space, I don’t want to disperse my energy through the invisible ocean like salt.


I am not going to exhibit ‘salt in water’; not literally, not metaphorically.

The 3 Whispers — that’s me, Julia and Kimvi — we three are using our first two weeks as research and development time. So I will come back to this question ‘what do I want to say?’ and ‘what is my dissent?’ when I have alchemised the elements I have chosen.

I don’t need the night to access the dark.

A map; a world‘ initial response to Andy’s burnt map in a jar

The outdoors is my darkroom I realised earlier this year, commenting on the feeling of surprise I get when I process digital film in this new way that contains the same excitement of my analogue days. By blending two layers together, I am collaborating with the software, and the elements gathered by the camera.

The name of this image is ‘Darkness’ and I have 13 archive quality prints available for sale if you’d like one.

The pen drawing ‘lilypad’ is a depiction of a dream I had in which I was in a substance of darkness and rising up, up, up.

I realised I was being lifted up by a large lilypad upon which I stood.

It lifted me to the surface of the ocean of darkness and it was a bit of a shock – so empty and airy up there. (I didn’t stay long!)

So imagine my delight at finding lily pads here.

Day 3

Laurence Rushby (outside the window) from inside the glass

My third day was positively aquatic. Arriving early, I did some research to find out what I could about water lily’s. I took photos of Laurence Rushby experimenting with cyanotype paper, and welcomed David Dixon, Sharon Harvey and Susan Merrick onto the island in the water. Sharon Harvey watched me finish making my paper wig of ‘thought strands’ and she made drawings of multiple happenings.

Day 3 research; my notes on water lily’s

Lily Pad’s at Winchester School of Art (WSA)

Water lily’s grow in water 5 meters deep or less. They grow with their roots in the mud at the bottom of a body of still or slow moving water.

They focus their energy on maintaining strong leaves which grow on the surface of the water.

The Water reflecting The Rotunda at WSA

“Their leaves and stems contain wide air spaces that run all the way down to the roots which provide bouyancy via a reservoir of carbon dioxide and oxygen.”

Lilypads are home to beetles, mining midges, moths, and caterpillers that live for six days and can even swim! (They swim to land to build silk lined cocoons).

Stomata on the top of the leaves take in co2 and expel oxygen (photosyn-thesis). The largest known flower was a water lily measuring 20cm.

There are approximately 70 species of water lily which includes 5 species of lotus.

The giant water lily, native to Brazil and the Amazon River Basin only blooms at night and the flower lives for 3 days. They change colour when pollinated by beetles, becoming a pinky purple colour, and they attract beetles by giving off a “butterscotch and pineapple” scent! It dominates the watery environment and other plants like algae can’t live under the giant leaves, but they support other lifeforms instead. (Lily-trotters!?)

In symbolism:

Water Lily symbolism can be found in ancient Egypt and Greece as well as throughout Europe.

The plant is associated with:

  • Nymphs hence the name ‘Nymphaeaceae’
  • The sun god Ra (who emerged from a primordial water lily)
  • The astro-sign of Cancer
  • Birth
  • Purity
  • Pleasure
  • Spiritual Enlightenment
  • The crown chakra.

(source: and

Published by Maija Liepins

Australian born, mixed-media artist, Maija Liepins focuses on the sensory and emotional experience in her visual dreamscapes. Repetitive actions such as dream journals or collecting visual impressions with her mobile phone generates material with which to reveal the subtle, ‘underneath’. Maija’s drawings and films allude to a symbolic mythology as if the intangible substance of dream is a material as real as ink and clay. Her practice is driven by a pursuit of freedom - to express, to create, and to collaborate without inculturated inhibition.

4 comments on “Day 3; Water Lily Adaptions”

  1. The lily pad is your stage. It is where you belong, even if at times it is questioned by yourself, ‘What’s the point?’. It is that, to stand, alone, not lonely, in the face of something to which you refuse to consent. It is in this searching, this questioning, the dissent – you on this island, surrounded by lily pads (micro-ecosystems) able to stand (float) alone, but with others attempting a similar thing. Just a thought.

  2. Its really good to start to understand other people’s process through this blog – Maija you seem to have spent a lot of time on site and this shows in the depth of your work and your thinking. I’m a little farther behind, with interweaving thoughts of ‘aha! yes of course that’s it!’ with ‘what the hell am I doing”. I’m hoping this week to give myself more time and space to create some more momentum in my work.

    1. Hi James, the water lily’s being present was such a gift. There are things I’ve been thinking about for several years and I am finding the laboratory useful for experimenting with ways of expressing and sharing them – that’s probably where the depth comes from. That and getting sucked into the rhythm of dialogue – I do so enjoy having people to write to and explore ideas with!

      In truth, the amount of activity happening on site has felt very minimal and not at all “on show” but the spread of 5 weeks to play in allows me more thinking and sharing time in between actions. More time in which to explore and share the significance of fleeting moments: an hour making a paper wig, 30min meditating on water with tissue paper and pen, accompanying Susan to the puddle in the carpark etc.

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