The April exhibition and week long series of events that took place at Project Space within the NNContemporary Northampton went well, apart from the broken down lift. The room was perfect for the activities scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition of my installation.
I exhibited three quilt square made from my late father’s handkerchiefs. Each of these quilt squares delves deeper into some of the themes of loss and sorrow introduced in the main artwork. It is my intention to continue adding this piece, called Triggers, with more quilt squares to eventually made a blanket.
I wish I had remembered to take a group photo of my partners. A huge thank you to University of Northampton lecturers and Wendy Turner, Dr Sonya Andemahr, Hayley Singlehurst-Mooney and art therapist Helen O’loughlin.
A video of Larissa’s talk, Visual Artists and Pubic Memorial, here – TALK
I also need to acknowledge the commissioned musical contribution to Triggers by OXUS. Listen to what they produced
This is what they wrote about their experience:
Background to Routes of Sorrow music by OXUS
Our relationship with Pam Foley began a few years ago with Heather Birt, (viola player in OXUS) teaching the violin to Pam’s daughter at school. Subsequently, Pam came to hear OXUS perform Steve Reich’s Different Trains in concert. This piece uses a backing track with pre-recorded voices, to which the string quartet responds, echoing and imitating the speech patterns. When Pam was considering appropriate music to complement her Routes of Sorrow exhibition, she approached OXUS about composing and recording music using techniques similar to Different Trains.
We also wanted to use music that featured strongly in Pam’s memory of her childhood, and of her father in particular. Two songs had such significance: Winchester Cathedral by Geoff Stephens and King of the Road by Roger Miller. We Pam’s artpiece in St Barnabas’ Church in Oxford, and felt that her use of rose petals and handkerchiefs could be another source of musical inspiration. We also decided that the speech we would use in the recording would be that of Pam’s daughter.
Initially, we spent some time improvising around the two songs from Pam, and our own ‘rose’ melody, Roses from the South by Strauss, and a Hungarian folk tune, The Four Corners of my Handkerchief. Heather then recorded an interview with Pam’s daughter. We selected small snippets of speech from this recording, which we felt were evocative, yet could be incorporated into a rhythmic work. We isolated these, and spent some time with our sound engineer pitching the voice, so that the viola could imitate her as accurately as possible in our improvisation. We also re-ordered them to try to convey a transition from grief to hope. Her voice has not been altered in any way, yet it sounds very songlike in this setting.
Over a number of weeks, we used a recording of these snippets of speech to improvise around, gradually settling on a chord structure, and various rhythmic features. This would form the central section of the work. The first section is a free improvisation based on the songs rather than the speech. The final section remains influenced by the speech, but returns to the song themes. It is played on a loop, so the different sections are joined, yet still distinct.
It has been an unusual project for OXUS, yet very exciting and worthwhile. Because the music you hear is improvised over a backing track, it cannot be recreated in a concert hall. Hopefully it is therefore a fitting work of art in its own right to accompany Pam Foley’s exhibition.
Kate Bailey and Louise Graham (violin) Heather Birt (viola) Spike Wilson (cello)
Oli Whitworth (recording engineer)
Thursday, 2 October 2014
A big thank you to Marcela at St Andrews Healthcare in Birmingham. She worked tirelessly to ensure that my artwork was utilised in ways I had intended, while it was on display there. The artwork was installed on 27 August and was taken down on 30 September. Early on I talked about the impetus behind the making of it with an assembled group of patients, their escorts, and St Andrews professionals. Following the talk, a lively and often deeply moving, conversation ensued, with patients sharing their thoughts and ideas gleaned from interpreting the artwork as it related to their own lives and experiences.
I was privileged to have been invited to join Marcela in her art room, along with a couple of patients, as they embarked on the production of their own artwork in response to what they had felt and thought from both viewing my artwork, and from our conversations. One person had the idea to make a three dimensional house, where the front and sides appear ‘normal’, complete with flower boxes on either side of the door. However, behind the front facade, a volcano is in the process of erupting. The work, although not complete when I saw it, was very powerful. Images of this and other artwork will be posted soon.
Routes of Sorrow was display in the Multi-faith Room. Marcela on the left.
Friday, 22 August 2014
I’m very grateful to Marcela Matejickova in Birmingham for all of the extra work and effort she has put in to bring my artwork to Birmingham. I look forward to meeting her and the team on Wednesday, and getting to know the staff and patients.
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Many thanks to Neil Tyrer, Head Chaplain at St Andrews, for his tireless support and for making it possible to exhibit this work. It was seen by patients and staff during Holy Week.
Neil also enabled patients to make ‘use’ of it as I had intended. Some patients visited the chapel on Monday, the 14th April, to meet with me and discuss what the artwork means to me, and to provoke conversations around what the recurring symbols mean to them. There were many stimulating questions and a few tears shed, but this artwork contains a hopeful message which came up in conversation.
Discussions with St Andrews Healthcare in Birmingham are now underway to transport the artwork there in the not too distant future.
Comments from the visitor book (names withheld to protect patient anonymity):
- Very impressive art and on Sunday it looked fitting as we approach Holy Week. The imagery of the face is powerful, may evoke different emotions.
- Lovely and very warming – it’s topped a fabulous service – thank you for making me smile.
- A soul painted, broken journeys – searching for hope – there is re-birth and joy. Hope for the broken and suffering.
- Quite sad – but uplifting.
- The birth of hope and the peace it brings, emerging out of darkness, sorrow and pain.
- It’s sad but I like the pregnant woman. I can really related to that. It’s uplifting.
- I needed the rose petals explaining as Pam’s own symbol but I could make connections with my own experiences, life journey, lessons from mindfulness.
- I enjoyed most of it but remain confused.
- Much food for thought. I could relate to some of the symbols and very much appreciated the opportunity to speak with Pam about this work. Chronic sorrow – grieving without finality; yet left hopeful. Thank you!
- XXXXX Ward very understanding of the sorrow of this time and a good time for reflection and love for the father, the son and the holy spirit Amen to you all. Thank you.
Wednesday, 9 April 2014
The group invited me to to join them for lunch. Thank you Hella and Marjorie and others for making me feel very welcomed.
After lunch the group met again at the church, in front of my artwork. The group was responsive, with insights into the frustration of attempting to make tangible an elusive feeling. I hope to visit with a few of the group members to delve further into their thoughts, to more fully understand how I can ‘use’ this art work with others.
Some comments from the visitor book:
- Very thought provoking. – Pat
- Thought and emotion provoking. – Orit
Monday, 17 February 2014
This artwork is now on display at St Barnabas Church, Jericho, Oxford OX2 6BN
10 February – 9 April 2014
To gain entry, please phone Paul on 01865 513601
Sunday, 16 February 2014
Visitor comments from exhibition at Inter-Action in Milton Keynes:
- I like the ideas translated into very different materials and images. It took time to read the installation personally re what it evoked. A really worthwhile visit. The words in the handout helps to take the thought further. Kay Lynn 11.10.13
- We eventually got here! I think your work is inspirational and I’d love to provide an opportunity to exhibit in the chapel. Please do contact me. Neil and family 12-10-13
- So glad we came. Joshua has been ‘explaining’ all about your work to a group doing a workshop here. Your triptych is so personal – I’m pleased we found and read your notes. Thank you for suggesting we visit the exhibition, a very worthwhile visit. Heather