Late night Jazz

April 17, 2009

Birdfood and I performed our first gig last night at the Bonington Theatre in Arnold, Nottingham.  Nottingham Jazz hosted the event and there was a tremendous turn-out!  Last night was the first gig in a series that will stretch from April through to November.

I had been nervous about the event, painting is such a private and intimate experience, I usually hole myself away in my studio, headphones on listening to 65 Days of Static or Pearl Jam, getting lost in the music and my painting… Last night I was part of the floorshow, painting live on stage in response to the fantastic music that Birdfood create.  I’m a complete novice when it comes to Jazz, and this isn’t your mass-market easy-listening or popular jazz classics… this is jazz as it should be, moody, thought-provoking, improvised, dark and light, emotive…. it was amazing.

Birdfood are a group of four extremely talented young jazz musicians from the Conservatoire in Birmingham.  Tom the band leader is a mean Double Bass player, Sam 1 an inspired and amazing drummer, Sam 2 a gifted trumpet player and finally Alex an equally talented and compelling saxophonist.  We were joined by the highly regardedsaxophonist Jan Kaplinsky last night and together they produced some truly beautiful and unique sounds to which I responded in paint.

Initial nerves soon left.  I painted at front of stage, my board angled so that the guys could see what I was painting, in order that they could then respond to my gestures and colours.  (Thankfully I couldn’t really see the audience as that would have been a bit too much of a distraction!) After the interval I was asked to introduce myself to the audience, telling them what it was all about.  When Tom first asked me to do it I felt a little apprehensive at what the audience expectation might be… would they be expecting a finished painting as seen in exhibitions?  If so they would disappointed… This event is about response and inspiration, it’s about the ricocheting of ideas back and forth between the music and the painting…

I usually work on canvas in oils, but for these rapid responses I was working in water-based media, inks, acrylics, gouache, household paint charcoal and pastels, with just a small amount of oil stick too.  I worked with my board propped up against heavy boxes so that I could sit on the floor surrounded by my materials to make my responses more immediate…

I’m so excited by how it went for us all and by the responses from the audience.  I’m already looking forward to the next one!!

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