It goes without saying that there’s a fair degree of excitement at the start of a new project, as the creative juices are flowing and you’re experimenting with ideas. Add another artist to the mix and you have double the excitement.
So, it is with the beginnings of the collaborative work I’m developing with Mudgee-based textile artist, Kelly Leonard for this year’s state-wide Bring to Light Projects (#BTLP) event in October.
We’d thrown around the idea of collaborating for a couple of months before setting a date to meet and talk about the logistics or do anything further. Sometimes that’s a very fluid process anyway as you never know where the conversation will lead over coffee and lunch.
So it was when I spent several hours with Kelly at her home in Mudgee at the end of May. Over a cuppa we talked loosely about how our ideas might come together but it wasn’t until I pulled out my mini speakers and test soundtracks and put them inside her bee boxes – the very works that had struck me so much when I first saw them in a group exhibition at Artlands 2016 – that the ideas launched into another space. Kelly’s face said it all.
I followed her into her studio where she sat at the loom. I’d come prepared with a selection of microphones, including my contact mic that I’m having great fun experimenting with. After talking about the mechanics of the loom, I initially placed two mics (the contact mic and an omnidirectional condenser mic) in different spots on and near the loom to just what we could get.
The results from that first recording with the contact mic blew both of us away – in Kelly’s words her loom sounded like it was alive. She’d never heard noises like that from her loom before. You could actually hear a heartbeat and a breath.
Using several plates, screws and hinge joints as points of contact for the contact mic, I left with multiple recordings that revealed the inner sounds of the structure at work, as well as some various other tracks more typical of what you’d hear of a weaver at the loom (captured using the omni and a shotgun mic).
Now the fun begins – experimenting with different mixes that bring the creation of the textiles together with sounds from the natural environment. I’ve never worked with an artist from such a different art form to mine before. I’ve never created an installation like this in collaboration with another artist before. It’s a learning process for both of us. However, if our first session together is any indication, it’s going to be a very rewarding and exciting process.
There’ll be further posts exploring the concept and development of this work over coming months.
#bringtolightproject17 will run across multiple locations in regional NSW and one site in regional Victoria on the October long weekend. Follow the progress of our work on Instagram @kellyleonardweaving or @goldsmithsstudio.