2021 Review part 2/3

May

Michael Clarke managed to come to work with me in my studio, we sorted out a few things that we could only do when in the same room, recorded a few bits and pieces, and made a big list of things to then follow up when we were on our own, to post backwards and forwards. The need to work remotely has meant a lot of organisation rather than relying on being able to do it “next time”.

I started recording extra voices for the last chorus of the song BUTTONS.

 A couple of people went to Mike’s studio in Kings Heath, A couple recorded themselves and sent it in to us. But what was really lovely was being able to get Kathryn Marsh, Danielle Cawdell, Carly Buntin and Alice Thomas (yes, related, my daughter-in-law) into my studio to record them. Of course we took the opportunity to catch up, play, and drink tea too. I’ve missed this. 

(Gracie Shaw and Heather Wastie recorded themselves, Karen Swan visited MC in Kings Heath)

I also welcomed Bill Laybourne to the studio to talk about how he might be able to collaborate on some of the sound works for the project. 

Then towards the end of the month Ed Isaacs and Steve Evans visited. They have been so encouraging and supportive of my work over the last few years. They nominated and seconded me for the Candidates Exhibition for the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, so they came over to look at my work to help me choose which pieces to submit. There was much discussion about whether I should submit a sound piece, but then felt that it would not represent my work, particularly in the middle of an ACE funded project if I DIDN’T submit a sound piece. It was a bit of a risk perhaps, but one that had to be taken. I was the first candidate in the Society’s 200 year history to submit a piece of music. It felt like a responsibility, but something I needed to do.

June

June saw the opening up of the music world and my band co-writers Andy Jenkins and Ian Sutherland returned to my studio for rehearsals, and we looked at several songs we had written remotely over the previous year and a bit, while isolated. They are good songs, they are developing nicely and will sit happily amongst the existing set we think. Steve and Ed invited me to take part in a small crit group they hold, alongside fellow RBSA member Linda Neville. It’s always good to present work to new eyes, and this was also a good way to assess the project’s progress.

July

During the very first lockdown, I started an online Facebook group of artists who draw, in order to provide a bit of support, some stimulation to keep working and a forum for conversation about drawing, and a place to post the things that inspired us. This group really took off, and I was delighted when many of the group signed up for an exhibition once we were allowed to hold one at General Office. Around 20 artists from across the UK, and also from the USA and Sweden took part too. It was so great to see many of them in real life and thank them for keeping me focussed.

The Candidates Exhibition went up at RBSA, including my five drawings and one song: 

WE ARE THE KISS

Stuart, Kate and I had been talking about the blog writing and had decided to ask each other a few questions, to compare our thoughts and approach to blogging. These questions were taken up and published by a-n.co.uk news. We also hosted a table on Discussion Festival to further discuss the long term blog in relation to the more immediate forms provided by the likes of Instagram. It was an interesting evening!

The RBSA Candidates show ended, and I was informed my application had been successful! So excited to be an Associate member of this prestigious and historical society of artists. To do so as a “groundbreaking” sound artist made it doubly thrilling!

August

The Sitting Room (or at least the trio of Ian, Andy and I) have started gigging… a small set in a local venue, and a longer, double set at an event in the local park. Small beginnings, but it does feel great to be singing live again. I also have been to a couple of gigs myself, and it feels warm and welcome to be hearing live music. Audiences are so appreciative that the art has returned. It’s been emotional.

I managed to spend a bit more time in Michael’s studio too… things are coming together slowly remotely, then take a big leap of progress when we can get together. I am feeling confident at this point that the work will be done, and it will be good! We recorded a really picky and particular vocal for 

UNDERTAKER BEES. 

It’s a really tricky one to sing, and required accuracy and an attention to detail that Mike is famed for. 

At the beginning of August I hire the gallery space for a week, staple a huge length of paper round three of the walls with the idea that I will draw to music on a large scale. I invite in a few musicians, including Andy Jenkins from the band, and Robert Lane, who is not just a musician, but an actor and improvisor too… I thought his input would be interesting, and it was.

But the big deal game changer was Bill Laybourne. He came in for a whole day, with a packed lunch and so much gear! He set it all up and we had such a fun day, making weird and wonderful sounds and doing weird and wonderful drawings. It was while doing this I had the idea to commission Bill to do a live drawing sound piece which we would do live, with an audience, then I would use recordings for future Drawing Songs workshops.

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