Colour & Music Links

Colour & Music Blog

Cross Sensory Collage

I have been to some really fascinating shows recently, which are giving me further ideas about my own practice and displaying it. The first being the dutch artist  Manon de Boer whose exhibition at the fantastic South London galleries I saw a couple of weeks ago, which I thought unusually and eloquently explored the senses. One particular film observed people observing John Cage’s 4 min 33 secs and another showed Improvised dancing captured on Camera and then the viewer was just left with the sound. I found these particularly powerful as by highlighting and isolating the visual and auditory senses, created a powerful overall experience. (See John Cage’s Artwork here)

I was also really interested in the sound installations of Haroon Mirza whose work I thought was a highlight and most thought provoking of the ongoing British Art Show7 show which I saw at the new Nottingham Contemporary. I notice that he just last week won the Northern Art prize.

I am interested in exploring the sounds made in my own work and am working on pieces, which reflect this interest at the moment.

I also really enjoyed the Len Lye show at the Ikon Gallery. I went expecting moving colour and the important light and happy films, which of course there were. What was unexpected for me were the huge kinetic sculptures which I found extraordinary and mesmerizing, creating colours in sound and unexpected tensions.

Recently I have also been listening to music, and in particular music which focus’s on heightening the visual and auditory senses including Bill Frisell and John Zorn. It was a Bill Frisell performance, many years ago where I first thought about my visual experiences of colour. Interestingly, a few years ago he started the 858 Quartet following a project creating music from Gerhard Richter’s paintings. This interest has led me to the fascinating music of Mira Calix whose strange ethereal mixing and collaging of sound fascinates me. Her work seems to me to be painting in sound and I am very much looking forward to possibly collaborating with her later this year.

Collage (Mixed Media) in box

Assemblage of architecture photographs and paintings

Collages have always been a central part of my practice and I often see musical analogies within them. I love the groundbreaking collages of Kurt Schwitters, John Heartfield and  more recently Peter Kennard . There is also a great show on at the Whitechapel of collages by John Stezaker . The music of modern experimental composers such as Calix has reopened my eyes for this visual work in a cross sensual way.

28th Jan 2011.

POSTED: 01/27/11 11:01 PM

Hearing Colour,Seeing Sound

Last week I had my paintings explored sonically by musicians at the Royal Academy of Music, who used my work as graphic scores, using them as a focal point to improvise.  This was very exciting for me and created an exciting extra layer to my work of which I will be exploring in a gallery context in the coming months and next year. Some work has also been used by the Composer David Gorton to accompany his new piece for Oboe.

I have been fascinated in how sound can become art itself ever since by chance I saw the wonderful piece Motet by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller when it was in Barcelona. Since then there has been the great Bruce Nauman piece at the Tate Modern and now just yesterday Susan Philipsz has won the Turner prize. I hope that this will open a new dialogue on the subject. I have quite recently begun to explore sound in my own work and have been recording the sound of painting, and have used this to effect in some improvisatory performances. Following the performance at the Royal Academy of Music, I would like the music to play even more of a central theme in the displaying of my work.

Seeing Music workshop

Chronochromie colours

Over the last year I have facilitated many exciting workshops which I always find very stimulating and a vital part of my practice, the last one was at Wolfson College, where participants created exciting artwork and poetry via Ekphransis while the great musician Gerald Garcia played guitar and Tibetan Bowls, a lovely combination of sounds. There was a lovely moment when all one could hear was the sound of the resonating of the bowls and the dripping of water and brush on canvas. This is something I would like to explore further via a performance. Some photos of this workshop can be seen here.

In Verbier (at the Music Festival) earlier in the year, I used a combination of my own playing to illustrate ideas of colours and chords and the great music of Messiaen, in particular the fantastic Chronochromie, which inspired great complex patterns  of colour from participants.

Speaking of colour, there are 3 wonderful shows on at the moment, which relate to it. The coloured light, show by James Turrell which brought to mind for me Thomas Wilfred and his Clavilux experiments which so fascinated (and I believe had a great influence upon) Jackson Pollock . Upon entering his colour pieces, I kept expecting music to erupt. Charles Ives “Central Park in the Dark”, I thought would have gone particularly well. Amazingly, in Birmingham there is a long overdue show of Len Lye, the experimental colourist who made beautiful films of moving colours and shapes earlier last century, and finally the magnificent Gaugin, whose work I saw many years ago in a large show on coloured walls in Chicago which had a great lasting effect on me.

POSTED: 12/7/10 1:22 PM

Displaying Performances.

Over the coming months I shall be exploring the displaying of my ongoing work. Apart from the odd show here and there, and many performances over the last couple of years, my work now demands a new setting to make it resonate more clearly. I am currently looking into ways of showing the way in which my work relates to directly sound.

Painting and film

Exhibit at Wolfson College 2010

I am also hoping very much to show my work alongside the work of André Thomkins who I believe uniquely explored the coming together of sound and paint. There have been some wonderful big shows recently on visual music, and sound art including a great show I was involved in recently called Eye Music, but none which have really explored painting and sound.

Paintings and Film of performance

Show of work in Bank Street Arts in Sheffield 2010

I am always fascinated by Colour as a concept, how it is perceived, the unique way we see it, how it can be created physically and how colour can relate to time via music. All these ideas are being explored in my work at present. This month I will also be collaborating further with Roger and Chris Redgate looking at our work in, relation to Graphic scores, microtonality and art produced via performance. I am also planning performances and installations ,which will use Music, Lasers and maybe poetry too.

POSTED: 11/15/10 3:52 PM

Poetry, Lasers and Time

Earlier this year I collaborated with a composer and poet in Sheffield. We met in a wonderful lively and creative space called Bank Street Arts. The night before I had painted live in Sheffield Cathedral in a formal setting on Perspex to wonderful and complex Organ music by Maurice Durufle and Charles Tournemire.

Steven Chase (the composer) wired up my canvas and the poet’s (Angelina Ayres) table and we set about corresponding to the sounds created. I found it rather an enriching and meditative and timeless experience.

Durufle colours

I have always loved poetry that joins the senses whether it be George Herbert, Manley Hopkins or Charles Baudelaire or modern poets such as Wallace Stevens, Jamie McKendrick and Tom Paulin and Last month I went to a wonderful lecture by Seamus Heaney to launch his new book, and it struck me how visual my favorite poetry is.

I will be experimenting with this interaction between poetry, music and visual art further in my Correspondence workshop, taking place next month.  In the last year I have also been collaborating with improvising musicians and also with writer and Hindustani Singer Amit Chaudhuri and I am hoping to bring these musicians together with myself in the coming months.

I am reading a lot about colour at the moment. Strangely there is not a great deal written on the subject. Naturally I have always been fascinated by the idea of a colour in music. Not only my own experiences of it, but the physical spectacle of it and how that in turn can effect the capturing of time in music, art and words. Last month I met with Professor Simon Hooker at the Laser physics department in Oxford University. Excitingly we are thinking of how we can join forces! There will be more news to come with regards to this, next month. Finally, last week I took part in a fascinating Twitter interview with the great performance artist Marina Abramovic who has a show on at the moment at the Lisson Gallery and I asked her about how important the capturing of time was for her in her work. She answered “Time is everything and the longer the duration the better the art.” This resonated with me strongly. Performance and capturing time is now becoming my artwork.

POSTED: 10/20/10 12:41 PM

Live Colour.

I thought I would take the opportunity in my first blog as such to introduce myself and briefly describe what I do and why I do it.

I am a visual artist who works mostly live in performance with Music. This work has evolved partly through my own joint practice as an artist and musician and through my own unique experience of seeing music and hearing colour as one.My work seeks to extend the ideas associated and generated by Action, Improvisation and Music through Colour and Gesture. My creative process is to fuse Musical and Visual concerns in order to test the limits of artistic practice via performance, exploring where these two art forms join and divide. The eventness of performance creates work that cannot be repeated which is in a very strong sense singular, to the moment, combining both a product and a process. Like site specific sculpture, my work raises questions about the ontological status of the art work.

The creation in performances are to become as critical as the image making itself with footage from performances now forming the focus. The work created during these exciting performances, concerned not so much about the final product, but the conceptual and performed efforts entailed in pushing painting and image making out of its frame. I intend to highlight this further, via a performances concentrating particularly on a wide and expansive diversity of music, reiterating my approach towards the transitory and ephemeral process of making art and music.

I am also interested in exploring the history of Colour, music and sound through my own practice, and am at the moment am planning to construct a device alike a Colour Organ, which I believe will form a pivotal role in my further performances.

Oxford. September 16th 2010.

POSTED: 09/17/10 4:02 PM