Photo: l-r: Howard Skempton – Matthew Harris (photo by John Ingledew)
Howard comes to the studio and we talk. And we talk and we talk. We talk about all kinds of things but very rarely do we talk about the project, certainly we didn’t at the beginning. Instead we talk around it, dance around the idea of a collaboration by discussing all kinds of things that impact on the way in which we both work. Our discussions have become a search and latterly a discovery of a shared language that cuts across both of our disciplines. We talk about material and process, the physical process of moving material around, of pushing it backwards and forwards until it starts to reveal something of itself. We talk about fragments, of things being complete in themselves but with the potential to be part of something larger; of the intimacy of small scale and the power of limited material and restricted forces. And we talk about composers and music. Feldman, Cage, Cardew, Webern and Skempton to name a few.
I am very lucky; Howard is both very interested in and very knowledgeable about Visual Art. He is also interested in the mechanics of how something is constructed and made, in how the material has been manipulated and explored in order to craft the finished thing. His interest in the making and materiality of something is demonstrated in the beauty of his preliminary sketches but also in the quality of his hand written finished scores that are crafted objects in their own right.
As far as the collaboration goes much has been left un-said. There is I think a sense of trust that through our conversation, shared values and similar approach the combined work will hang together. Not necessarily in an obvious way, we have never sought to try and make something together, but in a way that allows the audience to experience the similarities and draw their own conclusions and responses. As Howard said at the end of one of our meetings “if we needed to talk about the project then obviously something isn’t working”.