The Song as a Drawing

The wonderful thing about blogging is it lays out a platform for prediction, then lets you see everything in glorious hindsight later on.

I’m finding it hard to believe the things I believed. Because now I believe something else.

When I was doing ‘Nine Women’ in 2015, I was reticent, cautious, scared about performing. I believed it didn’t fit. I liked the music with the installation but could not see it as part of my practice. In fact I remember saying that it definitely wasn’t part of my practice. I had to be persuaded to do a few songs live at the PV, just as I had to be persuaded to perform a song for my MA final assessment three years earlier.  I now find it hard to understand why I thought it wasn’t the thing to do… even taking into account the sweaty palms and shaky knees thing. Intellectually I couldn’t see a way through. Though why intellectually should have a say in it I don’t know. I then went through a period of saying “fuck it!” and doing it anyway… “life’s too short!” etc.

I’m not quite sure when the worm turned… it must have been a gradual thing. 

My solo exhibition opens on August 6th, and the PV is on the 9th. (Do come, lovely reader, it will be wonderful to meet you!) My band The Sitting Room will be performing a short set in the middle of the evening (see flyer below for details). It is as I look at the songs in our repertoire, all lyrics written by me, with edits and input by my musical co-writers Andy Jenkins and Ian Sutherland, and arrangements beautifully rounded by Lloyd McKenzie and John Kirkman, that the truth cements itself into my brain. The intellectual has caught up with the instinctive. I have stopped making excuses for myself, and I now accept.  I trusted the process, and I trusted myself to bring it all together. No one else could have written these lyrics. They are irrefutably a big part of my practice. The way I write them, prompted by conversation overheard and participated in. Prompted by interactions recent: sharp, and ancient: dulled by time. I talk of childhood, love, loss, and that bloke I met in the pub. I talk about these people in song, just as much as I carve them into my paper with a 6H pencil. The fact that I perform with my bandmates adds another layer of meaning for me. They are songs, yes, and I’m really proud of them. I love that the guys are serious about making them really good too. But the songs are, to me, another way of drawing. These drawings lodge themselves into the heads of the audience. I know, because I’ve heard other women singing the chorus in the loo half an hour later. If my work is about Cause and Effect. If I am talking about how one person influences another, leaves a trace on them… then how much more part of my practice could this be?

I am really looking forward to this performance. It feels important because it is in the gallery. I’m setting out the stall.

I no longer have even a small vestige of doubt here. If anyone else does, that’s their problem. But let me finish the set, then I’ll get a drink and we can talk about it.

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The Sitting Room L to R: Andy Jenkins, Lloyd McKenzie, Me (obvs), Ian Sutherland and John Kirkman

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