Archive for the ‘Arthur Boyd’ Tag

Shoalhaven project photos

I spent the weekend working with the delightful Shoalhaven Youth Orchestra, up at Riversdale, which is  part of the Bundanon estate bequeathed to the Australian people by artist Arthur Boyd. It was an incredibly satisfying project. Musically, the group proved themselves to be extremely open to creative ways of making music, and excellent collaborators, with great communication skills amongst themselves, and the ability to keep progressing through the task.

Often in these 2-day composition projects I have a team of professional musicians working with the young players. Not for this project, however. Their two music teachers/directors were there and kept an eye on the different groups as they worked, as did I… but it was satisfying to see the way the young people just got on with the task without that adult guidance or input. It suggests to me that sometimes, the adults are possibly getting in the way of the young people’s composing. Certainly this group had no shortage of ideas, and their responses to the starting points I gave them (different artworks by Arthur Boyd, and the stories behind their creation) were thoughtful and original.

Riversdale is a stunning location, built on a hill overlooking a sharp bend in the Shoalhaven River. Boyd’s home was built in a traditional homestead style and these days houses the library (complete with fantastic paintings from the Nebuchadnezzar series). Visiting groups stay in the purpose-built Boyd Education Centre, an award-winning design by Glenn Murcutt that takes you right into the heart and splendour of the landscape. There is a large rehearsal space with sliding doors that open out to a view of the mighty Shoalhaven River, guests sleep in simple, comfortable dormotories of four beds each (I had one to myself though – very privileged!), and we are woken each morning by the sweet light of sunrise.

Here are some photos of the groups at work during the day, sunrise over the river, and the view from the hall on the day of the concert.

Note for travellers:

The Bundanon Estate is open to visitors on Sundays. The nearest town is Nowra, about 3 hours drive south of Sydney. If you are travelling on to Melbourne, linger awhile through this part of the coastline – it really is beautiful. The beach and bushland national park at Jervis Bay should not be missed.

Arthur Boyd and Merric Boyd

I’m heading up to Bundanon (Arthur Boyd’s beautiful property in southern New South Wales that he bequeathed to the people of Australia as an artist retreat) this weekend to work with the Shoalhaven Youth Orchestra. We’re going to be creating a Shoalhaven Symphony together (the Shoalhaven being the river that runs through Bundanon and the whole region), taking inspiration from some of Arthur Boyd’s paintings, such as this one:

I love projects that grow out of artworks. Boyd is a particularly inspiring starting point, as he has such a vigorous, energetic painting style, and creates his landscapes often through mere marks and lines, overlapping each other… you get a sense of the haze that is so often washed over the Australian bush, courtesy of the light here. There is also a strong sense of love for humanity, and humanistic principles, in his work.

As I always do for these kinds of projects, I’ve been reading up on Boyd to get as much detail in my head about his life and work, as you never know what story might spark a completely new turn in the composing process. I happened upon this site that gives a biographical overview of Merric Boyd, Arthur’s father, and images of much of his work. Arthur Boyd’s great humanity and generousity are placed in even stronger context after reading this description of Merric Boyd’s life. Do visit the site (even if you have never heard of Arthur or Merric Boyd – or Doris or Mary or any of the others in the clan, for that matter). The description of their home ‘Open Country’, filled with artists (family members and adopted others), is always inspiring, and somewhat humbling.

Project wrap-up – May

I’ve come to the end of my crazy-busy month of May. I think it will prove to be my busiest month of the year, in terms of the range of projects I’ve done. Here’s a bit of a run-down/wrap-up:

Jam with MSO in Ballarat

Five musicians and I took the Tarrago up the Western Highway to Ballarat for the afternoon. We did a one-hour Jam with a group of children and parents. The kids were aged from about 3 upwards, I’d say.

As is often the case with the Jams, we had very little knowledge beforehand of who would be turning up, and what instruments might be there. Fortunately, this project took place in a music shop, and the store manager was very easy-going about letting us use a big range of percussion instruments from the floor stock. We shared these out among the participants and started by asking for ideas of ‘words’, or themes that we could base some improvisations around. In the end, we had the words ‘love’ and ‘machinery’ (“Love machinery?” suggested one of the MSO musicians with a bit of a devilish glint in his eye. Only one of the parents giggled along with me… so we decided to drop that particular emphasis and treat them as two separate words. Ahem).

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