Colour & Music Links

Room for A Small Opera.

Room for a Small Opera.

My studio is starting to resemble a “Room for a Small Opera” by Janet Cardiff and George Burres Miller, with vinyl records, old tapes and record players. Their work continues to fascinate me, and it was seeing their “Motet” piece, when in Barcelona a few years ago, which opened my eyes to Sound Art and its impact, leading to my current concerns at the interface between Painting, Sound, music and movement.

In my studio there are many assembled archetectral objects, at the moment I am looking at them and listening to a great new visual album by Autechre . Suddenly they take on a new appearance.  I have often used Architectural features in my work, especially within Collages and for pieces associated with Messiaen’s music. For instance, for a piece in the collection of the University of Oxford, I used a Norman motif of human heads transmuting into bird heads based on what I translated synaesthetically whilst seeing the music of the spectacular Turangalila Symphony. There are some beautiful flinted ruined churches in Suffolk, (where I used to live) and to which I often return. The decorative knapped flints often reflect the sky and are jewell like, particularly this time of year when the light is low. By these I have an old musical roll of “Waltzing Mathilda” a somewhat physical mechanical manifestation of music and a sentimental link with Australia and a wooden rule of my grandfather’s, which I remember being in his hands. Somehow, juxtaposed they contain additional meaning, and gain an extra resonance.  The importance of these juxtapostions or “Curating” these objects, sounds and gestures was brought home to me further in a fascinating show I just went to see recently by the German artist Rosmarie Trockel, switching between media and author, and questioning the role of the artist today.

Flints and Objects

I have for many years now been making maquettes with boxes. A year or so ago, I went to a space within a Lutyens building in London to an exhibition called the “Historical Box” curated by Maria McCarthy for Hauser and Wirth gallery, relating to a time of political and social activism and turmoil in the sixties.  The work I remember most vividly was a black canvas box called “The War Room” by Wally Hendrick, who incidentally produced paintings via performances, and was a member of the Beat Generation. The box has been repainted for three conflicts. Inside the space, one can reflect on this process and the passage of time in a powerful way. I am currently in the process of making some large boxes of my own from sections of performances, so that they like Hendrick’s War room can become contemplative spaces in which to remember performances and moments passed.

Each performance of my own has a lengthy and elaborate procedure and story of its own to tell. Some are unrealised and even fail to come off. I am starting to think that these and the stories they entail are in some way important in their own right. Some of my events have taken so long to organise, that by the time they have happened, I have often moved on with my ideas. I am in the process of documenting and writing them up presently.

In a recent performance, I destroyed the work during performance, something I’d like to explore some more via film documentation, which is in itself becomes the only record of the process and product that is left. All my performances are by nature site specific, and I have been thinking of this also recently and how the performance is governed by the space and piece of music. Someone asked me at the beginning of my Creative Arts Fellowship at the University of Oxford what it was I did. When I explained, he said to me that I must do a lot of documenting. His words keep coming back to me at the moment.

April 2013.

POSTED: 05/15/13 10:22 AM