Sunday, September 04, 2016

Glass, Music and More

A shortish post, despite a busy week with the (almost) full compliment of staff back at the School of Jewellery and preparing for the new intake of students. I can't quite believe that it is a whole year since I started there. What a whirlwind!

I have written before of my friend, Carrie Fertig (here and here) and it was with some delight that I noticed that she was performing one of her glass-making-music works here in Birmingham on Friday night, hosted by the MAC by Craftspace. Accompanied by percussionists and live electronics, she makes and plays instruments made entirely from glass and part of the performance includes the live making of some of the instruments.

We were requested not to take photographs during the performance, so here is a video by Carrie of the sort of thing we experienced:

My favourite moment was undoubtedly the violent clash of an incredible glass-icicle chandelier hung from the middle of the space:

The Torcher Chamber Orchestra - 9

Which is then allowed to drift slowly to rest and silence, reminding me of nothing less than Ligeti's "Poem Symphonique":

The gradual fading of the sound allows the ear to pick out patterns which subtly change, slipping in and out of focus until all that is left is silence. From the chaotic, almost terrifying action of the clashing glass rods - the fear of them shattering, the idea of them falling on the audience - the performance space becomes a contemplative space, full of mesmerised people. From a personal point of view, I didn't really want it to stop.

The rest of the performance mixed serious musical intent with humour, small pieces of theatre, such as the rolling of these beautiful glass rattles:

The Torcher Chamber Orchestra - 3

As well as pathos and fear, such as the piece performed on a piece of glass chain:

The Torcher Chamber Orchestra - 6

Far from the sounds one might think that these instruments would make, the range of sounds is incredible, enhanced by live electronics.

The Torcher Chamber Orchestra - 1

Left to right, the "Torcher Chamber Arkestra" are, Stu Brown (percussion), Carrie Fertig (glass blowing and percussion) and Alistair MacDonald (percussion and electronics).

Afterwards, before we all headed off for curry, the audience were invited to try the instruments for themselves, which was brilliant.

The Torcher Chamber Orchestra - 7

The Torcher Chamber Orchestra - 8

The Torcher Chamber Orchestra - 10

Raddish (sic)

Saturday was my usual jaunt to the Digbeth fruit and vegetable market followed by a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery "Waterhall" for the exhibition of work by the MA Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products course at the School of Jewellery. It is pretty impressive that the show is being held in the main public gallery space in the city and I hope that this continues.

There were loads of graduates exhibiting and there is not space to go into it all but there is a Facebook page for the group here. What follows is a small personal selection of my own favourites:

Boundless Boundaries - Du Juan - 16
Enamel works by Du Juan.

Boundless Boundaries - Du Juan - 17
Enamel works by Du Juan.

Boundless Boundaries - Yen-Chen Wang - 32
Ring by Yen-Chen Wang.

Boundless Boundaries - Charlotte Smith - 20
Bowls by Charlotte Smith.
Boundless Boundaries - Charlotte Smith - 21
Bowls by Charlotte Smith.

Boundless Boundaries - Xenia Walschikow - 6
Work made from paint by Xenia Walschikow.
Boundless Boundaries - Xenia Walschikow - 7
Work made from paint by Xenia Walschikow.

Boundless Boundaries - Karen Lester - 55
Work in porcelain by Karen Lester.
Boundless Boundaries - Karen Lester - 56
Work in porcelain by Karen Lester.
The show is on for the next two weeks and is well worth a visit.

I've been back in the workshop again, making more works for "Made in the Middle", including a large selection of gem-set nut rings, still to be polished:

Run Of The Mill - WIP - 28

Set (l-r) with yellow sapphire, pale pinkish zircon, garnet, garnet and cornflower blue sapphire.

Run Of The Mill - WIP - 27

Apart from that, I've been working on the garden, planting my winter salads!
More soon.