The Project

A collaboration between Contemporary Composer Howard Skempton and Visual Artist Matthew Harris

World Premiere: Saturday 8th March 2014, 7.30pm, Town Hall, Wem, Shropshire

Presented through a partnership between Arts Alive, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Craftspace.

Field Notes – a performance featuring specially commissioned contemporary textiles and new music – will transform village halls in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Cheshire, Gloucestershire – and beyond – into both a gallery and a concert hall.

The programme, which tours to rural venues in March and October 2014, is a unique and experimental collaboration between visual artist Matthew Harris and composer Howard Skempton and performed by hand-picked musicians from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Using old maps of Shropshire and graphic scores as common starting points, Skempton and Harris have engaged in a lively creative exchange resulting in complementary new works from each artist. Harris’ freestanding artwork, combining textiles and drawings, will frame the performance space as four of BCMG’s world-class musicians perform Skempton’s new piece, Field Notes.

Skempton uses composers’ vellum for writing his scores, an indication of an enjoyment of materiality, crafted process and appreciation of tacit skill. The influence of contemporary music evident in the graphic qualities of Harris’ work created an immediate rapport between the two artists.

SIL_7039Visual artist Matthew Harris makes abstract artworks constructed through marking, piecing, patching, dyeing, cutting and hand-stitching cloth and paper. Howard Skempton’s joyous, sparse and decidedly enigmatic music has featured at the BBC Proms and has been widely performed by many of the UK’s top orchestras and ensembles.

In addition, the immersive programme will feature music by other leading composers, including Oliver Knussen, Judith Weir and Betsy Jolas, and a rare performance of extracts from Cornelius Cardew’s exquisite Treatise, realised by Howard Skempton and described as the ‘Mount Everest of graphic scores’.

A chance to meet the artists involved in the project, and a ‘behind-the-scenes’ film by Hereford-based film-maker Chris Smart which charts the progress of Skempton and Harris’s collaboration, will enable audiences to share their creative journey.

An artists’ development project initiated and delivered by Craftspace in partnership with Hereford College of Art takes place between January and March 2014.

Participatory workshops for families and young people organised by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group will be on offer as part of the tour.

Field Notes has been made possible through a Strategic Touring Grant from the National Lottery, awarded by Arts Council England, with additional awards from The Elmley Foundation, The Colwinston Charitable Trust and BCMG Sound Investors Anne Fletcher and Michael and Sandra Squires.

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