The Music department is preparing to deliver an ambitious production of Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Dream Play next week, bringing to life a musical stage adaptation of Carroll’s classic tale first performed in 1886 and written with Carroll’s close involvement. The University Cecilian Choir, soloists and ensemble lift the curtain on Alice’s mysterious, magical and musical world on Friday 21 February at 7.30pm.
Alongside the production, there are two art exhibitions on campus celebrating the bicentenary of Sir John Tenniel, illustrator, and cartoonist, whose illustrations graced the pages of the first publication of Alice in Wonderland in 1865. The production of the Musical Dream Play will feature many of Tenniel’s ilustrations projected above the stage during the performance, and these are currently on display in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery throughout February, allowing visitors the opportunity almost to walk through pages of the book…
Our colleagues over in the University Special Collections and Archives have also responded to the project, creating a special exhibition celebrating Tenniel’s contribution to political cartooning in his own work for Punch, and also in the lasting influence his Alice illustrations have had on subsequent generations of political cartoonists.
Politics in Wonderland: Sir John Tenniel at 200 features original cartoon artworks, cuttings and publications from the British Cartoon Archive by cartoonists including Nicholas Garland, Vicky, Strube and E.H. Shepard, and can be viewed in the Gallery, A Block Floor 1 of the Templeman Library until 20 March; more details here.
The walls of the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery are currently inviting visitors into a world of darkness, as the space presents for the first time some of the designs and the artwork leading into (and forming part of) a reimagining of the tale of Hansel and Gretel, which Goldfield Productions brings to Colyer-Fergusson in a few weeks’ time. A unique combination of live music, puppetry, projection and shadow-play, the performance brings to life a new take on the classic Brothers Grimm tale by the poet Simon Armitage, with a score by composer Matthew Kaner; the exhibition offers an evocative glimpse into the visual world in which the production takes place.
The display presents the work of artists Clive Hicks-Jenkins,Phil Cooper and Peter Lloyd, which charts the development of the design of the stage presentation, and includes some of the original drawings for a picture-book commissioned from Hicks-Jenkins by Random Spectacular, which turned out to be the starting-point for the whole project. Hicks-Jenkins also designed a cut-out-and-assemble toy theatre on the theme of Hansel & Gretel for Pollock’s Toy Shop in Covent Garden, and original gouache paintings for the toy theatre also feature in the exhibition.
The artworks occupy a wide range of media, from photography, drawing and painting, collage and paper cut-outs, including work by the Whitstable-based painter, Phil Cooper, reflecting his contributions as model-maker and scenic artist to the production.
The exhibition also features the work of paper-cut artist Peter Lloyd, who made the silhouette animation puppets of the Witch.
For the first and only time during the touring production, both the performance and the artwork which informs it are presented together on the University’s Canterbury campus, an enticing visual odyssey which hints at a fascinating performance which will fill the concert-hall on Sunday 21 October.
You can find out more about Hicks-Jenkins’ four-year project on Hansel and Gretel over the artist’s blog here. In the meantime, the gallery is open during normal working hours including at weekend; admission is free, and there is disabled access.
Hansel and Gretel (a nightmare in eight scenes) is presented by the Music Department in partnership with the Canterbury Festival; find out more about the performance here.
Clive Hicks-Jenkins : www.hicks-jenkins.com
Phil Cooper : www.phil-cooper.com
We’re delighted to announce that our new exhibition here in the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery is now open.
Blue, by Canterbury artist Adam De Ville, is a sequence of paintings united by colour, which explores ideas of identity, belonging, loss and technology. The title painting in the series is also linked to a performance of Pergolesi’s magnificent Stabat Mater, which the Chamber Choir performs in the Cathedral Crypt next week, for which Adam’s painting features on the programme cover. A haunting, evocative image of a lone woman, the painting seems to relate to the grief of the Virgin Mary during Christ’s crucifixion, set in dramatic fashion by Pergolesi shortly before his death.
The exhibition is open until Friday 9 March during normal working hours and at weekends; admission is free, and there is disabled access.
Read more about the insipiration behind the exhibition in a previous post here: find out more about Adam De Ville here.
I’m sitting in the café late on a dark winter afternoon, to talk with creative powerhouse, artist, actor and writer Adam De Ville about his Blue series, one of which is appearing on the cover of the programme for the concert in the Cathedral Crypt by the University Chamber Choir in March, for its performance of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. The music is a masterpiece of the Baroque period, a dramatic and vivid setting of the thirteenth-century hymn to the Virgin Mary’s suffering during Christ’s crucifixion; Adam’s painting (itself called simply ‘Blue’) plays with ambiguity, with uncertainty, with questions of identity, the unknown figure’s possible story and the implication of her suffering.
Sitting there with a shock of silvery hair giving him a distinguished aspect, his gaze direct, there’s a contradiction almost between the committed energy he has for art, his fierce creativity, and the carefully-paced, gently articulated way he talks about it; it’s as though each sentence is carefully weighed, measured for its value in articulating ideas which are important to him. No words are wasted; you are left with the sense that these things have been a long time in consideration, yet they flow readily into our free-wheeling conversation, as the sky outside darkens and the coffee sits forgotten amongst the papers.
Photographs of the Blue series are spread between us across the table-top as we talk. It was painted eighteen months ago, with two distinct aspects – one reflecting Adam’s passion for history, with two works referencing the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the other his fascination with technology. ‘I love exploring technology; does it give us an identity ?’ he ponders. ‘I’m always thinking about how the elderly generation uses technology, and how young people engage with it; does it create gaps, or fill them ?’ He launches into a story about sitting in a restaurant recently, watching a young couple eating, talking with each other and at the same time conducting other conversations on their mobile phones; multi-tasking across different streams with complete ease. ‘I wonder how my own children will use technology in ten, twenty years’ time.’
‘A lot of my work is about looking back and imagining forwards, whilst also embracing the transitory nature of life. I paint to try and get home, to anchor myself in moments on paper.’ The striking sequence of images in the Blue series reflects his interest in the colours and tones buried within that single hue; it began during a three-week illness, during which he picked up a sketchbook and began to paint – but only in blue. I asked him about his focus on a single colour and what it meant. ‘I was thinking about age, about being at different stages of life; and, on some level, how we deal with ‘the blues,’ with depression.’ When painting, the images are usually done in a single sitting, although the preparation and thought-process preceding them takes considerably longer.
A recurrent theme in Adam’s work is the idea of belonging and loss. ‘I’m fascinated by the idea of coming home to a home that doesn’t really exist. Life is transitory; you set up a home, and an identity which disappears when you die.’ His paintings have titles like Memory of Bern or Plans for Birmingham, as though he’s trying to pin down on the paper something elusive, to capture that fleeting moment that exists either only in the memory or in a brief vision of what might be.
Adam’s musical interests include the hypnotic soundscapes of Arvo Pärt and Gavin Bryars; Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten formed the sonic backdrop whilst he was painting ‘Blue,’ and Bryars’ mesmerising The Sinking of the Titanic inspired ‘Preludes (where you go I go),’ a haunting sequence of images.
I ask him what he’s working on at the moment. ‘I’m exploding!’ he says, eyes alight with real relish; ‘long may it last!’ His newest images explore the urgent, street-art energies of graffiti; other paintings explore a more vibrant world of colours in various cityscapes – Paris, the Montmartre district, Birmingham’s brutalist architecture from the 70s; there are also paintings of Havana – all places connected with Adam’s life, fragments of his own history. Suddenly we’re transported from the darkness-bound neon glow of the café to Cuba, as he recounts a brilliant (and hilarious) story behind one of the Havana images, involving his acting in a commercial dressed as a pork-chop, a moment which sounds utterly surreal but which informs some of his most energetic painting.
For all his gently-weighted manner, it’s impossible not to be invigorated by Adam’s considerable enthusiasm for his subject, his looking at things from different angles, for making connections and exploring ideas. As we leave to go, each to his own home – after our conversation about identity, about belonging, I’m no longer quite sure what that may mean – a little of the neon glare seems to fade from the café as he ventures out into the dark; but it resides, fiercely, in the images still spread on the table in front of me.
Adam’s work is currently in exhibitions at Store Street Gallery, London, Lilford Gallery, Canterbury and Flux 2018 at the Chelsea College of Arts, London.
Blue will be exhibited in the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery from Friday 16 February to Friday 9 March, during normal opening hours: admission is free, and there is disabled access. The individual painting, ‘Blue,’ will be shown during the Chamber Choir’s Crypt Concert performance of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater on Friday 2 March.
With the start of the summer term, we are delighted to launch our new exhibition here in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery.
A Canterbury Soundscape is the work of photographer and musician, Molly Hollman, and captures the life of the Music department in rehearsal and performance over the past year, combined with stunning images of the local landscape.
The images capture fleeting human moments at the heart of music-making – a shared joke during rehearsals, the opportunity to take a selfie in the Cathedral Crypt, a quick chance to tune an instrument before walking out to perform – as well as magical instances amidst the region’s wildlife and sumptuous scenery.
A Canterbury Soundscape is on display in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery until August, and admission is free; gallery open during normal building hours (including weekends), and there is disabled access. Find out more about Molly’s work on her website here.
Our new exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, A Canterbury Soundscape, which opens in ten days’ time, features the work of local prize-winning photographer and musician, Molly Hollman. Combining her passion for landscapes and wildlife with being a professional musician and music teacher, Molly has spent the past year capturing the life of the Music department here at Kent.
With an eye for a dramatic moment and an imaginative sense of space, Molly’s photography breathtakingly captures the spirit of people and of place. Her work turns a fleeting moment into a universal truth, responding to the beauty in landscapes, in venues and the people within them, in the way they interact with each other. Whether in the intimacy of a single flower within a landscape or the intensity of a musician concentrating in rehearsal, her work transcends the temporary moment, turning it into a timeless statement that skilfully captures the dynamic at the heart of what she sees through the lens.
Ahead of her exhibition launch, I caught up with Molly and asked her about her work.
How did you become interested in photography ?
I’ve always been an artist (my parents are both artists and potters) and have enjoyed painting throughout my life, although when my children were born time somehow seemed to disappear…. So I turned to photography, something I’d always enjoyed but never fully immersed myself in until then.
What attracts you most about working with images ?
I love to capture the world around me and have always had a love of nature; with photography I can capture the image as I see it, for posterity. Photographing the candid and everyday is as important to me as the grand and splendid.
What were you looking for in taking the pictures in this exhibition ?
I always try to capture a moment – many of the best photographs have a narrative, making the viewer reflect and be drawn into the scene. Posed photographs are often very staged and reveal no story or emotion.
Are there any photographers you particularly admire, or whose work has influenced you in some way ?
I have many influences, looking at as many photographs as possible is the best way of improving your craft. Aside from the classics, such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson, I like many contemporary photographers, such as Julie Blackmon, Henrik Kerstens and David Chancellor.
What’s been your best/most fortuitous moment taking pictures ?
Any time where the light has been amazing! Be as observant as you can – I won a prize in an international competition with a photograph of birds feeding, they were on a white fence with a white wall behind which then lent a touch of minimalism to the image and made the photograph more powerful.
What’s been your worst ?!
Grey, flat skies (as opposed to stormy skies which I love) are hard to do anything with, as are sobbing toddlers!
People or places ?
I like both, capturing a person’s character in one image is a real challenge that I relish, but my love of nature pulls me outdoors as much as possible. When I do portrait shoots, I try to do them on location if possible, thus combining the two.
A Canterbury Soundscape opens in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery on Monday 8 May, and runs until September; admission is free, the gallery is open during normal working hours, and there is disabled access. Find out more about Molly on her website here.
Today marks the official opening of our new exhibition here in Colyer-Fergusson, an exploration of beauty in the scientific environment from the School of Biosciences.
Curated by Dr Dan Lloyd, the collection of images, each generated through engagement with current research, showcases the beauty in scientific data.
The exhibition aims to shed some light on laboratory life and the process of discovery in the biological sciences.
Every image shown has a story to tell, and explores cutting-edge research in the fields of biomedical science, biochemistry, genetics and biotechnology. In addition to introducing new and interesting concepts at the forefront of scientific research, the exhibition aims to encourage the viewer to explore their own perspectives on art within the context of the biological sciences.
The exhibition forms the backdrop to an exciting lunchtime concert on Weds 1 February in the concert-hall, Cellular Dynamics, which brings together science and music in image-projection and time-lapse photography, accompanied by live music for piano by Philip Glass and Tarik O’Regan, and Gavin Bryars’ My First Homage for two pianos, performed by Dan Harding and Matthew King (details here).
Admission is free, and the exhibition is on display during building opening hours. Find out more about the images drawn from the Stacey Collection here. The exhibition is supported by Creative Campus.
Our new exhibition here in the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery focuses on the different uses of music during World War One.
Curated by Dr Emma Hanna in the School of History, the exhibition examines music away from the solemnity of memorial services, and looks instead at its use as entertainment in an era before the widespread ownership of gramophones, as a means of boosting morale during the conflict, as a recruitment tool, and as a means of keeping the men at the Front in touch with feelings of home.
As Dr Hanna writes in her introduction accompanying the exhibition, music ‘was unmatched in its power to cajole, console, cheer and inspire during the conflict and its aftermath.’
On display until Friday 25 November during normal opening hours, the exhibition is free to attend, and is part of the Gateways to the First World War project. You can talk a short video walk-through of the exhibition on Periscope here.
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.