Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Voices at Tate Modern

I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to the newest space at Tate Modern, The Tanks.
"The Tanks are designed to showcase live art, installation and the moving image. The artworks all explore different aspects of the human voice.

Whether used as an instrument, an affirmation of identity, a way of connecting and communicating or for storytelling, the voice is one of the fundamental means of human expression. It can convey meaning through language, be used as pure sound or a combination of both. The works on display show how artists have made use of its versatility to achieve evocative effects."
The installation by Janet Cardiff was a spectacular sonic experience.

"Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet is an audio installation reworking the sixteenth-century choral work Spem in Alium by English composer Thomas Tallis

Janet Cardiff worked with the Salisbury Cathedral Choir to record 40 individual singers, playing each voice through its own corresponding speaker. The speakers are carefully positioned in eight different groups of five, responding to the structure of Tallis’s complex vocal piece, or motet. Each group forms a choir of five singers with different vocal ranges: a bass, baritone, tenor, alto and soprano. The eight choirs produce harmonies which blend into a polyphonic landscape of sound. Visitors are encouraged to walk among the speakers to hear the individual voices, as well as the immersive sound of the motet. Cardiff said: ‘I am interested in how sound may physically construct a space in a sculptural way and how a viewer may choose a path through this physical yet virtual space.’

Sung in Latin, the first line ‘Spem in alium nunquam habui …’ translates as ‘I have never put my hope in any other but in you, O God of Israel’. Although Tallis wrote his music for a Christian setting, Cardiff has shown her audio installation in a variety of spaces, both religious and secular. The artist is interested in the ways in which music can evoke different emotions."

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains at V & A Museum

I have my Dad to thank for my love of the music of Pink Floyd. As a child I was introduced to a wide range of music, including Mike and the Mechanics, David Bowie, The Beautiful South, UB40, The Police, Eurythmics, Prefab Sprout, REM, and Fairport Convention. I can't say that I enjoyed all of his music, but I am grateful to him for bringing me up with such an eclectic mix of sounds. 

It is as I have grown older that I have been able to appreciate the lyrics of Pink Floyd for what they are. The story behind the band and the band members is an interesting one. There are only a few bands that are worth of such an extensive exhibition and, as the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A Museum showed, if the story is a good one, then an amazing exhibition can follow.

The Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A Museum is full of material from artwork, posters, memorabilia, instruments, props, set designs, album designs, interviews with the musicians, song lyrics, videos and of course, plenty of music.

The exhibition is ordered chronologically, taking you through the history of the band, and focusing on some of the important aspects and influences. The psychedelic beginnings, politics, their use of lighting, circular screens and set design are all covered in the material in the exhibition.

The band embraced Roger Walters idea of the everyday problems of modern life, and made Dark Side of the Moon to address such issues as money, death, violence and madness. 

I was overwhelmed by the wealth of material that was included in the exhibition, and I spent over 3 hours enjoying what was on offer.

The many video interviews provide unique insights into things that happened behind the scenes. The story of the escaping inflatable pig is one that will always amuse me!

Even with all the mod cons of present day, the visuals they were producing for their shows years ago are top notch. Going to one of their concerts was a feast for the eyes and ears, and this certainly is the case for the exhibition as a whole.

Although the fee is rather high in terms of exhibition entry prices, I feel that given the amount of material and high tech equipment included in the show, it is understandable why that kind of price is required to make it possible. It is, in my opinion, money well spent.

The final room in the exhibition is a surround sound and visual delight. It is as though you are at one of the concerts.

I can only urge people to go to this exhibition. It is one of the most powerful museum exhibits I have ever experienced, and, although I think it helps that I am a Pink Floyd music fan, there are plenty of things to interest anyone not necessarily a fan of their music.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Forms in Space…by Light (in Time) by Cerith Wyn Evans at Tate Britain

Forms in Space…by Light (in Time) is the 2017 Tate Britain Commission in which a contemporary British artist is invited to respond to the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain.

"The artwork is made from almost 2km of neon lighting, suspended from the ceiling and configured into straight lines, sweeping curves and spiralling forms."

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A lot can happen in a day - performance

The evening  performance session provided a natural close for the one-day workshop.

Having spent the morning reading and discussing the publication, A lot can happen in fifteen minutes, in the reading group, the afternoon spoken word workshop focussed on how to transform words that exist on a page into a spoken word performance. The group developed a spoken word performance using one of the texts within the publication as a starting point.


I began the evening by providing a brief introduction to the publication and an overview of the workshop. I performed a version of 'As planned', one of the texts in the publication that the group chose to work with, and this was closely followed by the group performing what we had worked on during the afternoon workshop. 

A question and answer session then followed, and the audience were very generous in offering feedback and comments.

Question included 

What were your motivations for writing?
How did this work develop out of your Masters studies?
How did your family react to being written about?

I ended the event by performing another of the texts within the publication, The flat was in sight. 

It seems that the workshop and performance event were really positive experiences, both for myself, the workshop members and the audience. I would like to thank all that were involved, including Alice and Sophie from Turf Gallery and Katharine from Disobedient films for documenting the day. Many thanks also to those who attended the workshop and the performance.

My publication can be purchased at Turf Projects or online

A lot can happen in a day - Spoken Word Workshop

The second part of my workshop at Turf Projects was a Spoken Word workshop. Leading on from the Reading Group in the morning session, I gave the group a number of options about the dirrection they wanted the workshop to take. Given that the group would be performing the outcome of the session, they decided that they were most interested in using the text within the publication as a starting point (as opposed to writing their own text), and thinking about how to reinterpret it and deliver it as a spoken word performance.

The text chosen for the performance was called 'As planned', and it was written in two columns, with each column suggesting a different character. It had previously been performed by two people, each of whom read one column of the text.

The group reinterpreted the text and identified there being four characters - a father figure, a mother figure, the subject, the internal thoughts of the subject.

We began by taking each sentence and identifying which character was speaking.

Most of the text remained the same as the original, but we did change the tense used by the internal thoughts of the subject.

Once we had identified the different characters, we tested out assigning different roles to different people in the group.

After some experimentation, we agreed on the line up for the performance. 

The natural interpretation was that the subject was younger than the father and mother figure, so we decided to mix that up and use one of the older members of the group to perform the character of the subject.

We then tested out the positioning of the performers in relation to the audience.

We decided where the audience would sit and set out the seating as it would be for the performance. 

We positioned one of the characters (the internal thoughts of the subject) amongst the audience so as to differentiate it from the other characters.

We filmed ourselves rehearse and re-watched the footage so as to identify any habits that were problematic or ways that the performance could be improved.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A lot can happen in a day - reading group

One of the galleries selling my publication, A lot can happen in fifteen minutes is Turf Projects, the first entirely artist-run contemporary art space in Croydon, South London.

Turf Projects are a charity organisation working to support the development of artists, curators and the public through an ambitious programme of free exhibitions, workshops and events.

Established by creatives with a personal connection to the borough, Turf now comprises; a gallery space exhibiting work from emerging & established artists; an artists workspace & events space; and an affordable studio provision for artists & makers.

In an attempt to prompt dialogue and discussion about the themes raised in my publication, to get feedback from readers about my publication, and to think of new ways of presenting the text within the publication, I developed a workshop to take place at Turf Projects in their Workspace and event space.

The workshop was broken down into three separate, but linked, sections. The reading group in the morning was an opportunity for the group to discuss the content of the publication. The group read a number of the texts; sometimes the same text was read, but by different people. This highlighted the different ways in which the same material can be interpreted.

We tried reading some of the texts as a group, and others we read just by one person. We spoke about the difference between reading them aloud and silently. I was reassured by the extent to which people related to the content within the publication. Although the texts refer to highly personal experiences, they have aspects that resonate with others due to the overarching emotions or themes.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Bethlem Museum of the Mind

On my recent trip to London for my event at Turf Projects in Croydon, I paid a visit to the Bethlem Museum of the Mind.

Bethlem Museum of the Mind is situated within the Bethlem Royal Hospital grounds, in a stunning Art Deco building shared with the Bethlem Gallery. The museum cares for an internationally renowned collection of archives, art and historic objects, which together offer an unparalleled resource to support the history of mental healthcare and treatment. It was formally opened by artist Grayson Perry in March 2015.

Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247 and was the first institution in the UK to specialise in the care of the mentally ill. The hospital continues to provide in-patient care as part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and has been based in south London since 1930.

I was specifically interested in research pertaining to my current investigations into auditory hallucinations, but found the museum to be interesting on many levels.


Melinda McGarry, a fellow artist and I have been in conversation about holding an exhibition in a barn in Hexham. I visited Melinda in Hexham where she lives and works, and took a look at the barn.

It is an interesting space, and has real potential. Our work will start with us having a clear out of the space and a bit of a clean, and then we will get to making some art!