On dry lips.
The group Icebreaker have previously done a tour where they re-interpreted songs by Brian Eno. Brian Eno shot to fame in the early 70s with the band Roxy Music, where he played synthesizer, an instrument which was in its early stage of development. Eno had previously been an art student, inspired by ‘minimalism’, an art form which is about only using the basics. Eno then went on to work with a wide variety of other bands, such as David Bowie, Talking Heads and German ambient pioneers, Cluster. After this tour, they wanted to do something similar. They chose Kraftwerk because like Eno, (in fact much more so) they were highly influential in developing electronic music, from the early 70’s and up until the present day.
On the 23rd of January Icebreaker performed at Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds. Before the main performance, Icebreaker did their version of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’. Terry Riley was, an American minimalist composer. ‘In c’ is considered by many to be a masterpiece. The composition went through many different shades, from mellow to noisy, from joyous to dark, from hypnotic to intense. It gradually built up from a luxuriant clarinet to a climax of sound. There was a part that for some reason made me think of a giant worm coming out of the earth!
Each Kraftwerk song was performed as an avant-garde instrumental, apart from a little snippet of processed German vocals, which I believe was sampled from Kraftwerk. Each song segued into the next. The performance was for about an hour. The songs combined many eclectic sounds and influences. After a while a booming bass appeared. The drums were more for percussive effect, such as crashing symbols, rather than rhythm. They were combined with electronic drums for extra volume and bass.
Above the musicians were three large screens. The screens began showing abstract shapes and rotating wire mesh which flashed to the pulsating bass and crashing symbols. There were shots of what would normally be mundane – doors, windows, pieces of metal. Grainy black and white images of Kraftwerk’s home city of Dusseldorf, desolate streets and factories with no people. Weeds blowing in the wind, industrial chimneys blowing out thick smoke. These images could have been filmed anywhere in the Western world. Scenes that would usually have been empty and inhuman evoked emotion. The film, created by Sophie Clements and Toby Cornish, is intended to create insight into Kraftwerk’s ideas of technology and how technology affects urban and natural space. For the song ‘Autobahn’, first we were shown a car driving down a motorway, from the viewpoint of a passenger. Then, the screen showed the white lines of the road, which you would expect to be dull but was in fact rather intriguing! The bleak images contrasted with the powerful music. It would be interesting to know what Kraftwerk would think about this! I thoroughly enjoyed this performance. Much thanks goes to Howard Assembly Rooms
Members of Icebreaker: James Poke – flute, pan-pipes, WX11 wind synthesizer, bass drum, Rowland Sutherland – flute, pan-pipes, Bradley Grant – saxophone, clarinet, Dominic Saunders – keyboards, Ian Watson – accordion, Audrey Riley – electric cello, Dan Gresson – percussion, James Woodrow – guitar, bass guitar, Pete Wilson – bass guitar with J.Peter Schwalm on electronics and processing.
By Daniel Tavet
Jude Woods is Assistant Community Curator at Leeds Art Gallery and I heard her speak at a recent meeting of the local arts group Scattered Leaves, where she talked about her work encouraging people who don’t usually go to art galleries to come in and see what there is on display. I didn’t need persuading since I’ve always thought free access to art is a brilliant thing to have in any city. Jude promised to write us a piece about her work for this blog in the near future, but in the meantime sent details of what looks to be a very interesting event coming up, combining art and social history, on December 1st.
One of the speakers, Carol Sorhaindo, worked for Leeds Mind’s community art project, and has run stalls selling her fabulous art work at Inkwell Summer events, so her perspective on ‘art from a post colonial perspective’ will be particularly interesting.
If you haven’t already seen Highlights, the “dazzling annual showcase of artwork by members of Arts & Minds”, you now only have until Sunday, and you’ll really miss something if you don’t see it. The quote in the previous sentence is from the blurb in the Love Arts programme, but it’s really not an exaggeration. This is an extraordinary collection – very varied, in terms of the type of image on display, with photography, straight and manipulated; pencil drawings; paintings abstract and realistic, ranging from the fantastical to simple images of domestic pets and other animals; scenes of gritty urban life and idyllic scenes of nature – but all generally of a really high standard, at least as far as I could tell, as a lay person who likes to look at such things.
One of the artists, local poet Liz Helliwell, has already blogged about the opening last Wednesday – see http://www.lizhelliwell.co.uk/2014/10/light-fantastic/ for her take.
I’ve put a few examples below to whet your appetitie, but they are really rather random – I liked so much of this collection that I’d have had to photograph most of it to give a true reflection. The Light is open from 6 a.m. to 12.30 a,m, daily, and the exhibition is staffed during the day. It’s free and the brochure says:. “Just turn up”. I would.
The images above are Royal Park School, by Jill Setterington; A Daydream by the Water’s Edge, by Ian Gill; Villification by Liz Helliwell; Veiled Garden by Amanda Burton; and Divine Mystery by Patrick Hanratty.
The Love Arts Festival is nearly upon us again. The festival launches on 15th October, so be prepared for exhibitions, poetry, plays and more special events, all with a mental health, creativity and arts theme.
There’s something new this year: the Love Arts Conversation is a festival-flavoured conference which will take place on 21st & 22nd October 2014 in Leeds City Centre. Continue reading
For the next three days you can see members of Leeds Survivors Poetry featuring in last Sunday’s Songs of Praise.
In its 20 year history Leeds Survivor Poets haven’t made TV very often. There was the Poetry World Cup in 1998 which merited a mention on Calendar. (We were runners up and got the Poetry Saucer, after I couldn’t find a rhyme for ‘orange’ in a poetry shoot out). But last Sunday we got a whole 3 minutes on Beeb 1 as they had a special programme from Leeds. They featured various Leeds religious folk and the things they get up, including Leeds Carnival, hip-hop, photography, and they followed the lovely Sue Matthews, one of LSP’s regular members, as she came to one of our workshops at the Civic Hall.
Here’s Sue at a previous workshop, and (below) at one of the group’s readings in Kirkgate Market a couple of years ago.
LSP continues to meet every first and third Friday evening at the Civic Hall, 5.45 to 7.45, next meeting on Friday 5th September.
Our bit of the Songs of Praise programme comes after 24 mins 30 seconds.
I have a print of one of Peter Shillito’s paintings in my front room. It’s a bright, complex, abstract design that people often comment on, and the colours in particular (strong blues, greens, purple) are very beautiful. Peter is a genuine mystic, whose poems and artwork form a whole – two different ways of pointing toward the same truth.
His exhibition ‘Lasting Essence’ is currently showing at the Arch Café, (just off Dortmund Square, round the corner from the St. John’s Centre). As well as about 20 of his paintings, there is a book of poetry with the same title, which has images of some of the paintings in it. It’s a lovely little collection. The title poem ‘written soon after a mental illness had torn my world apart’, sets the tone:
A small tree may grow
Its branches reaching out
like the arms of a child
Touching a golden sun
Its leaves whisper
and flutter free
Like a dove on a wing,
out into Eternity.
The theme of finding light out of mental darkness, and discovering that ‘breakdown’ can lead to ‘breaking through’, is a theme that runs through Peter’s writing. It made me think of another English poet/painter mystic, William Blake:
“What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song? Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy”
Peter is a member of the Living Artists Movement, the group Ushawant Kaur began, which printed his book. He’s also a regular member of the Scattered Leaves group, where practising artists and writers share their work every first Tuesday evening at the Civic Hall. The Lasting Essence exhibition will run until the 18th of August.