I was recently involved in an incredible interactive live art and music performance experience. Devised by Artistic Director Erica Rasmussen, this performance which ran over four nights at fortyfivedownstairs included contemporary classical musicians, violinist Andrea Keeble (AD Hoc Music Collective), flautist Elisse Kleiner and sound artist Nat Grant along with visual artists Sam Haycroft (Afterwhite), Marita Jacobsson and myself. Annabel Warmington created an amazing space for us to perform in with her lighting and set design.
As the musicians wove glorious and melodic soundscapes, their silhouettes were projected onto three large canvases. Myself and the other two artists were on the inside of the canvases in close proximity to the audience. Using grey, white and black paint we captured the silhouettes, essence of the music and sounds emerging from behind the canvases.
As the musicians played we (the visual artists) painted and they responded to our mark making, which in turn we responded to again with expressive and playful twists and turns of paintbrushes onto the backlit canvases. Sometimes we (the visual artists) were close together, also responding to each other. At other times we stood back from the canvas. It was a delight to see Sam Haycroft drawing out imagery from the spontaneous marks made…faces, birds and creatures amongst some of his creations. Marita often appeared to be dancing next to me…her embodied movements an extension of her broad gestural marks…interweaving many modes of performing, creating and responding. For me it was about being totally immersed in the process, trusting my ability to be spontaneous and letting go of expectations. Of course there was an audience to consider as well. We wanted to create a space in which they would feel invited to also engage and participate in the second phase of the performance.
Completed canvas (stage 1) from the second show:
After 45 minutes of being totally immersed in music and the art making the audience were invited to add to our canvas with colour. The musicians moved from behind the darkness and out inside the space playing music composed by Nat Grant. The audience members leapt from their seated positions and began applying paint, pastel, chalk, pencil, markers and more creatures and expressive marks. It was an absolute joy to witness and be part of.
After each performance the artwork was taken down and a new canvas put up to start again the following night, so there is a total of four large canvases.
The audience participates:
The team (musicians, artists, artistic director, assistants, volunteers, fortyfivedownstairs staff) were such a pleasure to work with and I am very grateful that Erica Rasmussen (whom I also work with at Wild@heART Community Arts) invited me to be part of the experience. Look out for other music and art experiences that Erica runs as part of her Paint What You Hear workshops, featuring artists and musicians from the performances described above.