Posted on April 23, 2015
Music / Free my Mind (After LTJ Bukem and MJ Cole) 2015 | Permanent ProMarker | iPad SketchBook X
“I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all” – James Baldwin
I am an artist who works with lines, colour, memory and sound to create art that seeks to transform hearts and minds. I create visual forms that respond to the vibrations of landscape, history, architecture and intimate spaces like churches, temples and palaces.
For several years now I have been commissioned to make work that engages with contested histories and heritage, requiring archival research and acute sensitivity to collective social issues and ideas. This has been both challenging and thought provoking, causing me to question the essence of what brings people into a conversation with works of contemporary art.
As I have been a professional musician longer than a visual artist, I have always used music as a platform of departure – informing my writing, research, drawing, moving image and sculpture. I have a form of synthethesia which causes audio sound and music in particular to be seen as graphic line and shape. Although, I have indirectly used this condition in limited ways in past works, studies and large scale projects, this will be the first time that I will completely embrace my form of synthethesia for this exploration into direct responses to improvised music.
Music guides my hand with more confidence than any in depth research of the given projects subject matter. Moreover, it is the music that releases the accumulated information of detailed research gathered and taken into my subconscious. This detailed download of research has a period of visual osmosis that through the audio blends improvisational and often experimental drawing with in-depth research.
With Inward Gaze, Outward Focus I intend to develop my visual language within new creative environments, surrounded by new sounds and stories. I therefore seek to create a new body of work based on the music of Jazz – not just as a compliment to the creative process, but also as a language that manifests in improvised composition and linear structures. As a practicing musician this work will represent almost a return to my creative foundational basics, where my two creative drives work in complete harmony. Within my blog I hope to document this internal visual journey.
Image circa – Luton 1990 – Afro Drummers
I began my musical journey at an early age learning the double bass, encouraged by a jazz trumpet playing older brother – that force fed a prescribed audio diet to my young ears – the music of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Wynton Marsalis and a great deal of Augustus Pablo. Being born and raised in a Luton council estate to very entrepreneurial and pragmatic Jamaican parents who although encouraged my interest, during early 80s UK, could not afford the continued double bass lessons or in fact, to purchase the instrument itself.
So I was left with what seemed like a surrogate electric bass and hip hop djing for MCs; then an old friend from my local breakdance crew that I also used to write and spray old school graffiti together with, introduced me to Rastafari. This is how my journey into music as ceremony, communal meditation, history and spiritual awareness began.
This experience of Rastafari culture and music left me with the acute awareness of a divine purpose innate within music and gave me the rooted foundation necessary to continue my studies in Afro Caribbean and World percussion and has informed my eclectic musical journey from global religious devotional music, western classical, electronica, Salsa, Caribbean Jazz to Contemporary Jazz which is my current field of interest and forms the foundational basis of this project work.
Outward Gaze, Inward Focus | 2015 | Permanent ProMarker |
Visualising the Essence
All musicians and artists understand the importance of the dictate ‘Freedom through Discipline’ (to your Art). We understand that through dedication, even outright obsession, that mastering an instrument through disciplined practice one can gain the true freedom to express our creative essence to the point where one becomes the conduit for the music to travel through.
However, when harmony, melody and rhythmical sound are not necessarily created for devotional purposes – there still exists a very rare and elusive quality one strives for when a gathering of musicians perform together and for which every musician understands. It is when this quality is attained during the performance and the collective are all are aware of its presence. The very act of music making is in its essence is a ceremonial event created to sustain a communal fulfilment of ‘oneness’ and this quality is devotional to the musician.
For me, when I hear a solo improvisation supported by such a quality, I have always wanted to capture the solo’s essence visually as the true internal portrait of the musician. By using the primary artist medium of drawing, I intend to capture a musician’s internal portrait through their compositional and improvisational essence. As the project title suggests, this work will engage with musicians whose approach, rather than solely technical ability, choose to compose and improvise in accordance with a meditational and spiritual level using the academic discipline of mastering one’s chosen instrument to gain entry into pure and ethereal freedom of expression and humanity.
Fly (After Alex Wilson Trio) | 2015 | Permanent ProMarker |
In order to facilitate this exploration of visualising in-depth solo Jazz improvisation, I have the honour and pleasure to play, document and work with some of world’s finest Jazz musicians. Firstly, as a member of London based The Human Revolution Orchestra and the upcoming Neo Latin Jazz/ Live art project SEÑALES with the great Latin Jazz virtuoso pianist Alex Wilson and Venezuelan Master percussionist Edwin Sanz.
Apart from the abundant resource above, I always compile project playlists for research subject matter and ‘feel’ and another playlist for production and sculpture.
For example, the second playlist for the permanent contemporary altarpiece commission and residency set within one of the oldest churches built within the medieval city boundaries of the port city of Bristol, the Reconciliation Reredos – I decided that the sculpture playlist needed to be futuristic and electronic, so as the architecture of the relief sculpture portrays the feeling of the 23rd century. I listened to nothing else whilst carving; accept the music of the critically acclaimed musician/composer for Japanese anime films Susumu Hirasawa. Hirasawa’s Holy Delay formed part of the final project playlist for the Reconciliation Reredos design and concept.
Continue to follow my artist blog, as I document extensively and exclusively for my website /social media my artistic process and progress.
See you soon…
Posted on April 5, 2015
Posted on April 5, 2015
Ritual Union (after Little Dragon). Drawing dedicated to all the Trinity Laban Conservatoire Contemporary Dance and Music students – whom I had the pleasure and honour to work with during my residency at CoLab 2015 festival. Many thanks guys! Follow the Inward Gaze, Outward Focus project playlist link below.
Posted on March 24, 2015
THE HUMAN REVOLUTION ORCHESTRA – ODE TO THE HUMAN SPIRIT – INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY LONDON 2015
I am thrilled to announce that the Special Guest appearing with The Human Revolution Orchestra for UNESCO 2015 International Jazz Day London event will be world-renowned trombonist and SGI USA member Robin Eubanks.
Robin Eubanks is one of the great Trombonists of his generation and has won many awards. He is coming to London specifically to perform at this event.
Robin will join us for Ode to the Human Spirit – April 30 2015 at Union Chapel for what will be another beautiful musical celebration of human potential, sponsored by SGI UK – a socially engaged Worldwide Buddhist movement.
The Human Revolution Orchestra is a diverse, multi faith and visionary ensemble featuring some of the UK’s finest jazz musicians with guests.
The image above is entitled Back in the Day (after Robin Eubanks) and forms part of the INWARD GAZE, OUTWARD FOCUS exploratory works (see blog post below).
To listen to this track click and follow the project playlist below.
THE HUMAN REVOLUTION ORCHESTRA – ODE TO THE HUMAN SPIRIT – FEATURING ROBIN EUBANKS
Venue: Union Chapel
Address: Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, London N1 2UN
Time: 7pm (Doors) Date: Thursday 30 April 2015
Tickets: £22 (inc. booking fee) http://store.unionchapel.org.uk
Posted on March 24, 2015
INWARD GAZE, OUTWARD FOCUS – THE NEW BODY OF WORK
Throughout 2014, I have been developing a new body of work; Inward Gaze, Outward Focus, to expand my visual language in new creative environments, surrounded by new sounds and stories. This exploration began by responding directly to the wonderful digital music scores for film and television by composer Alexandre Stoloff.
Being exposed to the exceptional Jazz talent London has to offer – especially as a member of the The Human Revolution Orchestra collective (below) for International Jazz Day London 2014 – has facilitated the desire to visually capture the live ephemeral experience of exposure to the improvisation and compositions of prominent UK Jazz musicians. Not just as a compliment to the creative process, but also as a language that manifests in improvised composition and linear structures
Within this period, I have completed over 200+ and counting explorative automatic drawings, using permanent marker pen engaging directly with a growing project playlist compiled on Spotify – which the selected drawings above, commissioned posters forUNESCO International Jazz Day London 2014 / 2015 and the ongoing Alex Wilson /Edwin Sanz – SEÑALES project (below) illustrate.
In order to develop the unique format, exercises and drawing style to capture such compositions and improvisations through automatic direct interaction with live jazz, I have been directly encouraged by pioneering UK and Internationally renowned Alto Saxophone improviser and committed jazz educator Martin Speake.
This led to the opportunity to collaborate with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance to commission me as CoLab 2015 Festival Visual Artist in Residence from 9 – 20 Feb 2015 to lead Trinity Laban students within a series of explorative visual art responses to improvised music and dance.
The Inward Gaze, Outward Focus Spotify playlist still grows, as does an insatiable appetite for explorative drawing and the innovative ways it can be experienced using new technologies.
Please feel free to follow the project playlists and even suggest music and artists to add.
Keep up to date with the drawings created for Inward Gaze, Outward Focus by following my Instagram @GRAEMEEVELYN or continue to check this blog for updates.
Spotify does NOT substitute the LIVE music experience.
Please continue to support Great Music!