As the year draws to a close we had our final peer group of 2019. That makes our 50th peer group since we started in 2015! Thanks to all those that came along yesterday and pitched in ideas and comments for both Douglas and Christina’s projects.
This month we had two artists sharing deeply personal works both coincidentally relating to grief.
Douglas Macgregor shared works from his project Songs of Loss and Healing. Douglas lost his mother at an early age but wasn’t able to grieve until 25 years later, going through a profound delayed grief experience. Douglas shared both his personal responses to this subject matter and the resource he has been developing. Douglas’ personal response has been to record 7 pieces of original music in 7 places of personal meaning to him. The work — both the music & accompanying visuals — are breathtaking, delicate, moving and tender. Douglas’ project currently exists online and his question was: How do I take this offline? How will it work in a gallery, a live performance or other interaction?
The second part of Douglas’ work is the online resource he has been developing looking at how different cultures use music in times of loss. Douglas’ question was if this is used as a resource, what would make it useful?
As a group we discussed the need to define, in both instances, who do you want it to reach and what do you hope for them to experience? In order for people to interact with the music on a deeper level there were suggestions of creating a more intimate space (other than a concert etc) where people can engage in the music. This could be a performance space (one-to-one), a smaller group setting, or working within a format where people are grieving.
The idea of collaboration seemed key: working with grief counsellors or therapists, music therapists, drama therapists etc to bring in another dimension. We talked about the sensitivity of the work and providing support for those that may engage with it (particularly in a therapeutic setting). Douglas’ resource is primed for working with schools and young people to change the discussions we have around living and dying.
- St Ethelburga’s as a venue for performance.
- Good Grief Project
- Cruse Bereavement
- Triniy Laban
- Horniman Museum
- Taryn Simon’s An Occupation of Loss
- Re:centre in Hammersmith
Christina Lovey shared works from her new project, working title The Wild Places. Christina spoke about recent losses she’d experienced — that of a long-time collaborator and also her younger brother this year. She highlighted that her desire to be in a wild place started with Two Tree Island (based in Essex) but she felt that her photographs could not capture the essence of the place or her feelings. She longed to be present in a wild place, whether it be to draw, sing or dance. Christina mentioned that she needed to find a way to represent how she was feeling within a wild place and began engaging in remote drawing: imagining herself in places across the UK and drawing these imagined places with charcoal using little to no references.
“The drawings are my response to the challenge of wanting to make work sited in a wild place- such as the enormous sand dunes just north of Aberdeen, or the remote islands around the coast, such as Lundy Island. Unable to reach these places at the moment I decided to use remote drawing as the first stage of the project outputs. The work is essentially a healing practice that relates to an indigenous Aboriginal ritual – following a death in a family or community, grievers take themselves out into the country and stay there for a period of time, deep listening and opening themselves up to new ways of being. This is my version of that practice.”
We talked about how to add in more of a sensory experience in the work, combining colour to evoke feelings, smells etc. Jill commented on the use of monochromatic charcoal as a representation for grief: colourless and ghostly. We spoke a bit about what it would be like to make a series of these remote images based within different perspectives of the landscape, and how they might relate to each other. Douglas mentioned Aboriginal culture having songs for places. Christina’s fantasy is that she’d be traveling around the UK in a camper van engaged in this deep listening experience with the landscape, but in reality hasn’t been able to do that. She’ll soon be taking a trip to Epping Forest and we talked about what that might look like: what materials she’d take, whether she’d take her tap shoes and record, or whether the journey can be a part of the experience (picking things up that might contribute to the works). Adeola mentioned her own understanding of animism within the Yoruba religion and how that might contribute insight into Christina’s research.
- Film: A Ghost Story
- Edge of the Present: An immersive VR experience shown at The Big Anxiety Festival in Sydney looking at how we use VR to create virtual landscapes for people who cannot imagine the future due to their mental health / suicidal ideation.
Click here to find out information about our peer groups, including future dates.