Colour & Music Links

Correspondence Interactive Workshop

Here is a lovely  description of the workshop I ran late last year by a participant, the writer Erin Soros.

Documentary photos

If it weren’t for the length of our bodies and a few wrinkles and grey hairs, we could be mistaken for an absorbed bunch of kindergarten children, all of us sprawled on the floor, happily painting swirls of colour in response to notes played on a guitar.  The interactive workshop, titled ‘Correspondences,’ was an opportunity for artists, musicians and writers to explore the relationship between music and art.  It attracted participants from Oxford, where it was set, and visitors from across England, many of us living in the UK but originating from far-flung spots—India, China, Canada.  The workshop coordinator, artist Mark Rowan-Hull, has mastered an improvisational style of painting, on stage, to live musical performance.  He began the day by explaining synesthesia—a neurological linking of the senses.  Some people with this condition see specific colours in relation to letters or numbers.  Rowan-Hull sees colours when he hears notes.  What might we see?  He set out canvas and paper, gouache and acrylics:  we were to translate music into colour and shape. A responsive dance.  The musician Gerald Garcia began playing his own compositions on guitar and Tibetan bowls.  How unusual, and yet simple:  the room filled with the resonance of plucked notes, the accompanying scratch of our brushes. Bending and lifting arms. Heads cocked with intent. We created artistic dialogue, canvases startling in their differences—some featured vibrant colours and energetic swoops, while other paintings were delicate, shading tentative, as if seen through rain. One included single words, dropped like splotches. None were directly representational—no birds, no bells.  Instead, the evocative patterns evidenced a new way to hear.  Try it, the next time you are moved by a concert on the radio:  take a piece of paper and some pencil crayons, and let your hand do the listening.

POSTED: 02/17/11 11:56 AM