At the end of last year, I had the opportunity to work as sole visual artist & filmmaker on the creative team for the Garden Music project. The project was developed and run by the Outreach and Education department at the Academy of St. Martins in the fields by producer Kim Perkins as part of Outward Sound. The creative team for the project was headed by sound artist and composer Jan Hendrickse and also included instrument maker Richard Thomas.
Garden Music used Mozart’s opera The Pretend Garden Girl and a site visit to the Valentines Mansions and Gardens in Redbridge as a starting point to devise an innovative cross arts-music performance that was staged at King’s Place in London. We developed and expanded on themes of ecology, the senses and science to create visuals, music and instruments for the project.
Over September, October and November we worked with over 100 schoolchildren from Islington over a series of workshops. The young people we worked with collaborated on every stage of the project; working to understand ideas of musical composition, to build instruments that created sounds triggered by water, light and pressure and finally, to create visuals that would accompany these sounds. Towards the end of these sessions, professional musicians from the orchestra at the Academy participated in the process to work towards the final performance.
I conceptualised, produced and created 20min of animation for performance in collaboration with these young people, 5 min of which was devised to be produced live on stage.The animations were created over a series of drawing and print-making exercises that culminated in groups of students working together to create short stop-motion animations with leaves, flowers and other natural material.
The experience was really rewarding and very inspiring. Our performance at King’s place was truly unique and innovative; all of the music was improvised and performed on the day of the performance itself.
The project built on my experience and learning from Breathe, the MAP project at the Barbican Centre that I developed in collaboration with musicians Rachael Perrin, Jonathan Ang & Laetitia Stott. I hope to be a part of many such projects in the future. Here’s a link to a documentary about the project on the Academy of St. Martins website (scroll down to see the video and you can see me onscreen for 2 minutes!) The video of the performance is coming soon to this website. Watch out for it!