Colour & Music Links

Dreamtime and Illuminations of Beyond

I have had a mind blowing few months, of which to date I have not written about. Largely due to the fact that it is all still just sinking in.

It all started with an auditory experience in December, watching the Australian band “The Necks” whom I went to see playing in the Holywell music room, the oldest purpose built music room in Europe. Over the years I have become a great lover of Australian improvised music. In particular the music of the great rough rambling sound of the tenor Saxophonist Bernie McGann and the sensitive abstractions of the pianist Andrea Keller.

The Necks though have a unique way of creating a soundscape, taking a simple minimal motif and building it up and up and suspending it. The experience is intense and meditative at the same time, awesome and almost overwhelming, and as I have now found out could only come out of Australia.

Watering Hole

I found the Australian Outback particularly and extraordinarily overwhelming. I expected to think of the work of Australian painters such as Arthur Boyd, Sydney Nolan which of course I did, but I was surprised  often  to be reminded of Messiaen and his great orchestral works ( in particular “Illuminations of the Beyond”)His final big piece which apparently according to one of my knowledgable twitter followers, infact contained Australian birdsong. This music for me seemed to in some way come somewhere close to capturing some of the vastness and spirituality in th landscape, and the awesome closeness of the stars with the land.  Interestingly Australia has an interesting tradition of Colour Music too, of which I first read about in a biography of Francis Bacon. The artist Roy de Meistre and friend to Bacon was a  pioneer of Abstraction through music.

Driving through the Outback

The Birdsong echoing through the valleys and the sound of wind blowing across the desert and the Aboriginal philosophy of Dreamtime (as documented in Bruce Chatwin’s great book Songlines) really struck a chord with everything I am interested in and am doing and I feel sure that the whole experience will filter into my new work.

Desert I pad Sketch.

The Spontinaety of performance is something I am focussing on at the moment and the ways of portraying this. The performance with Susanna Recchia recently has had a profound effect on the way I am thinking about my work now. There are a few great shows too, which are resonating with me at the moment. In Paris (where I will be visiting shortly) there is an exhibition about Art and Dance at the Pompidou Centre about the interrelationship between the two artforms over the last Century. The other is about Music and Composition through visual art with Ryoji Ikeda in Berlin. Next month at the University of Oxford, I will be hosting talks about Music and Art’s inter relationship with Art Historian Richard Cork and looking at Visual art and composition with Michael Berkeley and Kevin Laycock.

Finally a writer I admire just wrote to me “I was musing on your own work’s hybridity, and how you arrived there, this _between_ space of painting and music which is really itself a dance.  How your work inhabits time, chance, the synchronicity of your paint and another artist’s sound, that intensity of listening, translation, transformation.  How to create those meeting points without sacrificing the discipline itself.?

All of my current concerns concisely and most eloquently stated.

POSTED: 02/10/12 3:57 PM