Field Notes, a collaborative art project you can see and hear

Matthew and Howard / Photo by John Ingledew

Matthew and Howard / Photo by John Ingledew - Credit: Archant

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 artist Matthew Harris and composer Howard Skempton and performed by hand-picked musicians from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Internationally renowned Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, award-winning Craftspace and Shropshire and Herefordshire’s Arts Alive have come together to co-commission this unique production with a strategic touring grant awarded by Arts Council England.

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.

Visual 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 Treatise, realised by Howard Skempton.

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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 and participatory workshops for families and young people and are also included in the tour.

Field Notes will tour to eight Arts Alive venues in Shropshire and Herefordshire in the Spring and Autumn of 2014, with a further four performances planned for rural venues in neighbouring counties.


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