Tag Archives: notation

Work in Progress (at last)

I don’t know why, but after weeks of prevarication and confusion I woke up this morning and knew exactly what I needed to do!

I’ve been fiddling around making work that is either too big to be called a sample or too small. I’ve tried things out that have had nothing to do with my core ideas in a desperate attempt to get to the ‘thing’ that annoyingly stayed just out of reach. Nothing has quite worked, although some things have had promise. Obviously it has all been worthwhile and has contributed to this eureka moment. Strangely, I think deep down I already knew what had to be done – it was there in my brain all along, but for some reason at 6 o’clock this morning everything fell into place.

Today I’ve painted 2.5  metres of linen cloth and made 120 wire eyelets. All that remains is to put them together ….





….  of course it may all go horribly wrong!


Holed cloth

It occurred to me after my last post that I hadn’t written about the things I have been making recently. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing anything. I have been working on a new set of ideas and the work is still at an early stage – embryonic and unformed. I’m still don’t quite know where I’m going with it …. I have an idea of what it could be, but I’m not there yet. It’s an exciting time and I enjoy the experimentation. These two cloths are hole-y investigations (not finished pieces). I’m thinking about rhythm and metre, counting, space and silence, flow and disruption. As always the materials I use are important to relating the work to place. Therefore these cloths have been soaked in the sea and this afternoon I photographed them after they had been drying overnight in the beach hut. I want the stitching on the eyelets (especially on the black cloth) to become really crusty and dark. I’ve dipped both of them again so hopefully the rust will stain the stitching even more. The cloth has become stiffer with the seawater and I really like the handle of it. P1010645   P1010648 P1010650 I’ve got a couple of other things drying in the hut …. I’ll show you when they’re cooked!

Holey Words


I’ve been thinking about different types of holes  – how they are made? what they do? what do they say? My first port of call is always a thesaurus. Here are the words that caught my eye.

Opening: Gap, Lacuna, Aperture, Split, Crack, Leak, Hollow, Cavity, Pocket

Perforation: Piercing, Puncture, Borehole, Pinhole, Eyelet

Orifice: Pore, Nostril, Embouchure,

Window: Porthole, Peephole, Squint

Doorway: Threshold, Scuttle

Open Space: Clearing, View

Tunnel: Oesophagus, Vent hole

Perforator: Borer, Gimlet, Wimble, Drill, Stiletto

Expose: Gape

Perforate: Riddle

Porus: Permeate

Open: Unfold, Bare, Unrip, Force Open, Rip, Tear, Separate, Unclench

Pierce: Lance, Poke, Pepper, Punch, Drain, Penetrate

P1220963 P1220961 P1220965

The photos are of a Work in Progress (just started). These holes are defined and precise but are they eyelets to squint through or a filter to let sound through?


Well! Here is a bit of a conundrum for you.


What is a hole? Is it a thing or a nothing? I’ve been thinking about this for a while and these are my conclusions  ….

A hole is just a space – an immaterial emptiness that is surrounded by a physical material that describes its shape and allows us to see nothing. The material around the hole makes visible the invisible. We name holes and can describe their physical qualities. They can be a hollow or an opening, a cave, a pocket, a perforation, a slit, a crack. They can be large or small, single or numerous, high up or low down. Therefore if we can identify them maybe a hole is something.


Pierced into a piece of cloth a hole lets light and air through and reveals what is behind but can the space within be called a mark? The space/negative space/emptiness is, I believe, as important as the surrounding material that describes its shape; neither takes precedence over the other and each is a mark in its own right.


To me the nothingness should describe silence. Kandinsky described the colour white as ‘having the harmony of silence’, so, are holes pierced into white cloth silence on silence? It seems to me that the holes are disturbances in the silence, they denote sounds – they are soundmarks. But if the hole and the surrounding cloth are equally important then both the space within the hole and the material itself become the mark. The soundmarks can switch from one to the other but it is the surrounding material that forms and shapes their quality.

Any other thoughts are most welcome ….

Notations – seeing sound

Is it possible for music and sound to be a visual art as well as a hearing one? This is a question that I have been mulling over for some time and one that lies at the heart of the work I am doing at the moment. I am interested in a synthesis of sound, landscape and music notation and whether drawing sound could be a way of creating an aural landscape where sound is visualised and landscape is heard. I am exploring this by looking at various forms of notation.


Notation is a recognised system of symbols (essentially marks on paper) that visually represent a music or sound idea. Standard notations are well-known, clearly defined structures that are able to communicate sound information in a functional and precise manner. I consider the characteristics of three notations that are able to articulate sound: text, Western musical notation and graphic scores.


Text and words are the visual form of speech. Indeed, as you are reading this you are probably also hearing my words in your head. The traditional Western musical notation of a score is read by a musician who has the skill to interpret and hear a composer’s thoughts.


Both these types of notation can be understood aurally when the written language has been learnt. Furthermore a musician can also realise music notation by playing them on a musical instrument as the notational elements of a musical score are there to fulfil a purpose which is to ‘sound out’ a composers’ ideas. A musical score is normally thought of as silent and would generally be deemed redundant if it weren’t to be played by musicians, however, we don’t question the functionality of a script if we don’t read it out aloud.  Thus, we are able to learn the symbols of script or score, understand their meanings and consequently ‘hear’ those meanings in our heads – our eyes are able to see the sounds inferred.


However, both these notations create boundaries and an artist can only take their ideas as far as the conventional limits of the system will allow. Formal notations can constrain an artist who wants to be able to communicate a suggestive or poetic sound idea that falls outside of the standard structure of known marks.


From the 1950s composers such as John Cage, Cornelius Cardew and Earle Brown moved away from the restrictions of conventional musical notation to find new solutions. The reasons for this were various: to create a greater artistic freedom with a new range of sounds and sound relationships, to enable creative improvisation and interpretive freedom in performance. Graphic scores were the medium through which composers were able to articulate their ground breaking new ideas.


Graphic scores are a way of communicating musical or sound ideas through drawing. Although some composers only used drawing alongside modifications of conventional musical notation others invented a completely different approach.  Experimental marks and pictures represented sounds and became the alternative means of expressing creativity and the boundaries between notation as music and notation as art became blurred. The marks made on a graphic score are not the learnt mark of a standard script or musical score, they are imagined marks that come from the creator’s mind – there are no set rules for creation or interpretation attached to them. The creator will have had an idea but the final interpretation is only constrained by the reader’s imagination.


I believe that a graphic score is able to blur the boundaries between cognition and performance or put another way, notation as art and notation as music. By using abstract drawn, painted or constructed marks that are not a traditional recognised sound notation the work becomes a hybrid, a mixture of sound notation and visual and tactile marks that leave enormous scope for the imaginative interpretation of the reader. Art exists to enhance human understanding and the method of inferring aural, visual and even tactile experience through the medium of a graphic score gives the creator the freedom to express more than standardised notations are able to offer.


I want to draw attention to the way in which we experience our surroundings using the visual, aural and tactile senses. In these photographs I am creating visual and tactile marks that represent sound but leave us with the paradox of a silent score – a score that is not meant to be performed but one that is to be looked at, touched and consequently heard.