Right – a painting from my winter series 2015.
(Paintings for this year’s winter series don’t begin until October. Read on, below) …
Winter Series: Music and Image.
Private View 25th November 7 – 9pm
Open studio 26th November to 3rd December
Venue – Lyne Street Studio, 5 Lyne Street, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh
This project is a development of a five-year collaboration between myself and Atzi Muramatsu. It’s a collaboration that has involved many approaches, including individual responses to shared subjects (such as the Eigg Island project at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in 2015) or Atzi’s live response to my paintings, from which I created video montages.
For Winter Series: Music and Image, I’ll be creating a series of twelve paintings in response to twelve pieces of music composed by Atzi Muramatsu, on the theme of winter.
For this I’ll respond solely to the form, mood, texture and musical references of the music. It’s going to be an exciting new challenge for me as I’ve focussed mainly on landscape painting for the past five years.
In the process of collaboration, you become immersed in the work of the other person, more than you would if you heard a one-off performance, or visited an exhibition for one evening, for example,
For Atzi this has been at times an unusual experience where it feels as though he’s actually in the landscape as he responds to the painting. To get the sense of this, have a look at my recent video where you can see Atzi become more involved with the paintings as the performance develops, it’s particularly affecting during his improvised response to ‘Moonscape, Harris 4’, which you can see in this clip from about 3:19 onwards. (The clip shows the painting, then cuts to Atzi performing, and back again). Clip – Moonscapes
I found the juxtaposing medieval-sounding and folk influences most dramatic – absolutely relevant to the subject matter, which was all about the idea of living through the darkest times in a Hebridean landscape. I knew the painting was a bit dark for some tastes (it won’t be a best seller – dark paintings rarely are!) so I was gratified that Atzi went into that dark landscape so willingly!
In the editing process of making these videos and synchronizing music with image, I’ll often hear the same piece about twenty times or so. So the music really plays over and stays in my mind. Some fragments stay more than others, one of my favourite pieces is probably the beginning of Hebridean Light, which you can hear from about 3:38 in this video – I find it joyful.
Over the years I’ve come to appreciate more deeply the eclectic nature of Atzi’s influences, I think of him sometimes as a musical encyclopaedic sponge! But it’s the musical talent in expressing, juxtaposing or harmonising these influences, and the level of expression, that I find so inspiring. It’s one thing to hear all those influences in a piece that’s been composed and worked on over months, quite another to hear it improvised live.
So it’s no surprise to know that much of Atzi’s work has been created for film, his score for ‘The Making of Longbird’ being a recent example (the film won a Scottish BAFTA). Atzi then went on to win a BAFTA last year.
As someone who’s always been fascinated by film scores, music and image (in fact my art college dissertation was partly on this theme, but don’t worry I wouldn’t inflict that on anyone!) from Moricone and Herman to recent compositions by composers Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto who created the incredible score for The Revenant, I can absolutely see where Atzi’s ear for music traditions – from ancient to modern in the eastern and western hemispheres, would suggest a future in film music composition. More recently I’ve been exploring the music scores by Bear McCready for the Outlander series. It’s mostly a commercial approach – unashamedly romantic, though extremely well researched. I was particularly struck by the subtle arrangements used during dialogue which correspond so brilliantly to time and place – for example Jacobean times in 18th cent’ Scotland, or 18th cent’ Paris, post WW2 Britain, or music reflecting courtlife in contrast to country-life and folk traditions. It’s really a fascinating subject to explore, but I’m digressing!
In short, it’s going to be a most enjoyable journey for me to respond to Atzi’s music through paint. I want to honour the process and make sure that buyers of the paintings experience it too, so with each painting sold, buyers will recieve a CD with recording of Atzi’s music score, and a music notation of each piece. This means that people can experience the image/painting and music together, exploring for themselves how the image responds to music. If they’re musicians they might themselves play with the the themes too perhaps, and who knows, it might lead to new collaborations, I’m always open to that.
I’ll be sure to post the making of each painting as they progress, and to include music sounds clips here on the blog as the series develops. The main body of work will happen in October, wish us luck!