I tried taking photos of our Honesty plants some weeks ago but was not happy with the results – the evening light gave a colour cast that, when seen in the images, did not look natural. Now the plants have been moved to a more suitable spot in the garden and the dry seed heads were laid out on a table.
Why Seed of Memory? Because Honesty is a plant that always brings back memories for me of our garden in Northern Ireland when I was young. My mother must have talked about it and the name, being an easy one to remember, has stuck in my mind and is now associated with a time in my life when it was not only in the garden, but also in the house as decorative dry seed heads.
Thinking of this association with memory, I immediately think of one of my all time favourite albums – Seed of Memory by Terry Reid. This too, brings back some strong memories of people and places for me. I’m not sure what the copyright restrictions are for the file below but it is on YouTube and available to buy on that web page.
Yesterday’s official opening of the StillWalks project exhibition “Sights and Sounds of the Countryside” went very well. It was busy enough for me to forget to get photographs and with the preparations beforehand, I also forget to arrange for photos to be taken. If you want to find out a little more, please visit the StillWalks Facebook page (and Like!). I will be reporting more on the exhibition when it finishes on 10th July.
In the meantime, here are the last of the apparently black and white photos from around the exhibition space – these first three being of the lift doors – and then on to a splash of colour from one of the chairs.
Continuing my exploration of the venue of the StillWalks exhibition for the Sights and Sounds of the Countryside project, here are some more shots of aspects and objects in the room other than the exhibition itself.
As with the photos in my last couple of posts, most of these photos are full colour – but not all! So, which ones are black and white?
So, back to the canvas, or at least, the place from which that “Metallic Canvas” came – the old burnt out freezer that provided me with so much colour and texture for my camera and sound for my recorder. I said that I would try and explain my interest in metal and my weird liking for the sounds it can make and these are the clues.
Over this last week I have shown something of the ways in which I have used metal in my work but perhaps I have not explained why I use and like it.
Synesthesia – This is not how I would describe my visual, aural or linguistic experience of the world. However, from the moment I started tapestry weaving at college many years ago, I was excited by the touch and texture of the materials I handled.
It took many years of weaving to reach a level of expertise with which I was happy and confident. A part of this development was my deepening understanding of how my body, my fingers, interacted with the structure of warp and weft. For many years I used strong bold colours and blends in my tapestries and this too helped me to gain a clearer understanding of how colour interacts in different ways in different circumstances. Tapestry weaving is unique in its absorption and reflection of light – hence its generosity with colour.
These things are key to my approach to photography, sound recording, StillWalks and my “Interventions”. I have carried out workshops in the past where I have asked people to close their eyes and listen to the sound of an instrument or an everyday kitchen object and think about what colour the sound might be or what it would feel like if they could touch the sound as it travels through the air around them. Music, too, is often described in terms of colour, texture and form. This is not synesthesia, I do not see numbers as colours or whatever the crossover of senses might be for an individual experiencing synesthesia.
I find the relationship of one sense to another exciting and I am thinking more and more these days in terms of how everything in this world is interconnected in one way or another. The texture and colour of an old burnt out freezer relates precisely to what has happened (or been done) to it. The sounds it makes in this state are unique to its condition and the circumstances of the space that it occupies.
Sounds are very important to me and whilst it may just be a matter of personal taste in the end, the fact that I like those (some would say harsh) sounds that metal can make, is relevant to StillWalks. I specifically do not like the soft, ethereal music that is so often used on meditation disks and it is this fact that led me to explore field recording and its use in StillWalks. The sounds in StillWalks are unique to the time and place of the walk, and the photography, and therefore, what you hear in each walk is entirely the result of the conditions at the time.
I find it fascinating how little these conditions need to change in order to create a different sound – it may be wind strength and direction or simply atmospheric pressure, time of day or year or how many people, birds and other creatures are around . . . and those thing too, only exist as they do because of the conditions and circumstances at any given time and place.
Everything is interconnected and it is this that I try to impart to project participants when out in the field. How we interact with our surroundings has an influence on everything that is a part of those surroundings and as a species that is in the privileged position of being able to make conscious choices about what we do and how we act in relation to everything (and everyone) around us, we have a responsibility to consider the effect we have on all those things to which we are connected directly or indirectly.
Oh dear, now I’m getting preachy – sorry about that folks 🙂 Comments welcome!
Suffice it to say that it is the colours and textures both visually and aurally that attracts me to metal. This says nothing of the symbolism that it can have in different forms and conditions, but that is something that perhaps should be left to the audience to interpret.
The effects of yesterdays dreich morning can be seen in that old freezer I have been photographing recently. The wet metal reflects the weather we had at the start of the day which created new colours and patterns only seen in these conditions.
And the sounds this can make? I continued working with them and here are a couple of experimental mixes. Next week I will try to explain some of my use of metal . . . watch this space!
You can click the mp3 files below or play the SoundCloud files which only appear on the blog page, not in an email. Ideally you would listen to these through headphone but it’s no big deal.
But it was a dreich day when I came down the garden to my studio this morning. So, to stay in keeping with the brightening day, I have decided to put up a few more of those colourful metallic “canvases” I have snapped recently.
Today I will work some more with the sounds I have been recording from this material but here, in the meantime, is a snippet. What does it sound like to you?
This metallic canvas is Turner-esque in the violence of the storm – but I did nothing, just took the photo!
The texture . . .
. . . and vibrance of the colour amazes me.
I love it but . . .
. . . it’s just . . .
. . . an old freezer . . .
. . . destined for the scrap merchant.
Of course, it should never have been burnt, but it has provided me with some interesting material to play with and add to my collection of metal (weird, I know). I shall be recording some of sounds it can make soon. Anyone interested can listen to my metallic sound collections on SoundCloud here and here or click below. If you can’t see the sound files below, please visit the blog page.