Blog 22B: Living With Art and Music Pt. 2
Updated: Nov 20
As I have said, I want to dedicate this blog to the marvellous Terry Quirk. I finished this blog in the early hours of the morning before we got the awful news of his death from his wife, Erica, today - 1st June 2020. Terry would have understood this blog so well, (as will Erica!) and it is hard to put into words how much he will be missed. He was Chris’ oldest friend and I feel privileged to have become a friend and fellow artist of his. Bless you Terry, and thanks for the inspiration and love you gave us all. You will always be in our thoughts and echo in our work.
On the verge of moving out of London, I found myself thinking about living with music and art - as Chris and I do - and how much room both worlds take up in our lives. Artists and musicians the world over will understand all this I am sure!
First I mused on the physical space. There is a lot of physical ‘stuff’ that goes with art. Materials and equipment CAN be as minimal as a pencil and a sheet of paper of course - but artists do tend to start collecting bits and pieces that ‘may come in useful’ and this becomes a life habit. Before we know it we have rooms and studios full of papers of every kind, pens, pencils, brushes, scissors, blades, boards, wire, fabrics, glues, paints, pastels, books, sketchbooks, enough hardware and DIY kit to fill a car, all sorts of ‘found objects’ and collected ‘inspirational flotsam and jetsam’ picked up from anywhere, postcards, cuttings, photographs, slides, frames, folios, stationery, magazines, jars, cups, old clothes and radios - I could go on - and then of course there is the actual physical work itself!!
This ‘collection’ requires furniture - so we also attract tables, shelves, boxes, chests, filing cabinets, ladders, lamps, bins, tripods, easels, screens, desks and chairs.
When it comes to music - well the music itself is invisible, but it too acquires ‘stuff’ - assorted instruments (mainly keyboards and guitars in our case), amps, cables, microphones and recording equipment, speakers, percussion, tuners, paper, notebooks, pencils, books, records and record players, cassette and DAT tapes and players, CDs and and CD players, computers, drives, screens and yet more cables! (Though fair to say - not half as many as there used to be). ‘The Chris White Experience’ project is reminding us that we can add enormous amounts of multitrack tapes, vinyl, memorabilia and diaries to this list.
Then there is the emotional and mental space. That is a bit more tricky to describe but it is there all the same - and all of the time. It goes everywhere with you - ideas for either art or music can come from anywhere (when you are lucky), a shape may catch your attention, a tune, lyric or story idea might repeat itself endlessly in your head, a colour combination, a conversation or a sound may inspire you. A performance or activity may get you buzzing - it’s just anywhere or anything really. Many artists believe that all of the ideas are ‘out there’ in the ether and can be ‘picked up’ by anyone with their receptive ‘antennae’ ready.
It is all a vibrant messy jumble that somehow gets organised into something tangible - something you can see or hear or hold.
If your art is architecture - I suppose that you can surround people with your art, but I feel that music is the art that really surrounds you. Properly envelops you.
Sometimes, even if you want to, you can’t escape it and silence can be an elusive commodity - especially when working on music at home - and most especially in the mixing and production phases. In this way, I feel that music actually takes up more space than art.
Sometimes, especially in the heat of summer, many different ‘musics’ playing at the same time, drifting out of windows and doors, blasting out from cars and radios, leaking out of headphones and mobile phones becomes our constant background soundtrack and we get used to it. Music becomes a blanket of sound and general noise.
The pandemic has served to remind us of how it is to live with less incidental, persistent noise and as the decibel levels return to a new normal, I think it is important to remember the things we learnt and heard in the relative silence.
Art and music may seem like luxuries, but they are an essential part of the human condition and no matter what troubles or what joys arise in our lives there will always be a soundtrack - there will also be pictures to remind us and inspire us.
Good luck to everyone.