Originally my concept for the part of the gallery that would be the 'sacred space' was that it resemble a crypt in a mediaeval European church. I think this is because these were the spaces that most effectively generated within me the mingled feelings of spirituality, solemnity, mystery, fear and reverence that I was looking for. Part of this relates to visits as a child and as a teenager to several of the great cathedrals of England and France and part was generated by an experience several years ago in the crypt of the Catholic cathedral in Sydney, Australia.
I talked to various people involved in installation art, the theatre and exhibit design for ideas. None of the possibilities for recreating a crypt within the gallery looked reasonable considering my budgets of time and money. I had to discard various ideas of borrowing theatre sets, making moulds of church walls to produce casts in paper and building columns. For a while I considered draping cloth to simulate fan-vaulting; but nothing ever really appeared feasable or satisfactory.
I had received a promise from the Pleides Theatre for the loan of a thick curtain to separate the crypt space from the curator's space; but that left the rest of the crypt undesigned. Finally Arina Alincai, the visiting artist in the ceramics department, showed slides and discussed installation art with the 4th-year ceramic students. I also had several discussions with her on the subject of my show. From these a number of solutions emerged.
Her advice was to trim the installation to essentials - to get rid of unnecessary complications and to consider the most important elements very carefully. So the divider became a simple, white, L-shaped wall. The sacred space is thus defined by whitewashed walls reminiscent of those in a monk's cell or in a refectory that is part of a monastry. The ambience would be created quite effectively by lighting and sound effect [the subdued strains of Gregorian chant in the background]. And it did indeed work.
The rationalizing story become that of the gallery curators loaning the gallery to become a temporary mediatative retreat where death and the dead could be remembered. Under these conditions the space could be treated as a temporary chapel and the rules of the gallery space subsumed as the rules and schedule of the chapel. This lead to the posted notice outside the gallery and I became Brother Dominic [my chosen confirmation name] who leads the ceremonies and handles the maintenance of the candles, flowers and incense.