Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Award.
I’m absolutely delighted to announce that I have been awarded an Arts Council England ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’ (DYCP) grant for a new book project called ‘Music, Painting, Landscape and Me’. More of that in a moment.
First, I’d like to say that after 8-years of trying for an Arts Council grant – any ACE grant, and my second attempt at a DYCP award, I was totally surprised to see that I had been successful. I’m usually not.
What is this project?
To answer that, I’m going to quote a few parts of the application that spell out what it is I want to achieve with this book idea and how I’d like to go about it.
I have been awarded 45 research and development days across 9-months to research and generate substantial preliminary written materials such as an introduction, chapter outline and sample chapter materials for a book that explores my relationship to composing, painting and landscape and how these intersect and are embodied in my practice, particularly through a sense of place.
I will produce these materials to help secure a publishing offer or to complete the book for release through self-publication.
Using clear language and written from my perspective as an artist/composer for other artists, composers and arts-interested readers, this book would aim to inform and inspire those exploring their own practice across different media as I set out to demystify, disentangle and clarify creative experiences, conclusions and assumptions through the lens of my own work.
Although I have experience in academic writing, I have not written a book before, so this activity develops entirely new skills and requires new research, learning and partnerships.
Initial expressions of interest include:
• An external critical support network with the schools of music and art at a London university
• Exploring publishing partnerships
• 9-talking head videos (one per month) for my YouTube channel and other organisational outlets (to be confirmed) that document, explore and share this journey.
I have been creating compositions and paintings intuitively or using various processes, particularly with composition, for around three decades. The time has come for me to ask some deeply personal questions about why and how I make these works.
To move forward in my practice and create evermore connected work, it is now time to ask:
• what compels me to do what I do?
• why is my practice as it is?
• why do certain landscapes affect me so deeply?
• what elements of landscape, music and painting are transmitted across these media?
• what exactly is a sense of place and how is it embodied in my work?
Although frequently asked questions, explanations are often wrapped in impenetrable philosophical or metaphysical language that can feel disconnected from the lived artistic experience, or from my lived experience, at least.
Why does this matter?
Because approaching these questions as a practising artist rather than a philosopher may provide unique insight into actions and motivation, shining a light onto what are internalised and little understood processes.
In seeking answers about my own practice, I may provide answers for others.
Supported through a critical network of scholars and artists, this is an intensely personal project driven by my curiosity and developmental needs.
The possibility of becoming a published author positions my creative practice differently, opening opportunities for conference and artistic presentation, meaningful joint concert and visual art exhibitions/installations/lectures and establishes me as a thinker and writer about artistic practice as well as a maker of music and paintings.
So there’s the blurb. I hope you find this project as exciting and interesting as I do. It is unlikely I will be able to answer all of my questions – much of how we operate artistically remains deeply embedded within our bodies, mind and hearts, senses and sensations, and is difficult to articulate such affects in words, but like peeling back the layers of an onion, I’m curious to see just how far I can get along this path, hopefully identifying the territories that bound what is unknown, or even, at this time, unknowable, along the way. This is not a technical instruction book about how to paint or compose, it’s a book about *why* I paint and compose and *how* music, painting and landscape are connected to each other, to me and to my practice.
PhD Thesis submitted
And it’s away!
After nearly four years – four because of the additional year of difficulties wrought by Covid restrictions, and with, surprisingly, something of a happy ending and resolution, my PhD thesis is finally submitted for examination. ‘Control, Flexibility, Flux and Complexity: A Timecode-Supported Approach to Polytemporal Orchestral Composition’.
I’ve hugely enjoyed the journey, apart from the last year which promised no hope of completion as all performances were forbidden. It was the unforeseen opportunity to write for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Tectonics Glasgow 2021 but particularly the invitation to take part from Ilan Volkov that saved the day, and my research, a turnabout of fortune I had not anticipated, hence the happy ending. The results from that particular performance were so good that they significantly helped me to present an extremely strong case (I believe) for the efficacy of my polytemporal composition methodology. Now, the final hurdle, the viva voce, is all that stands between finishing my research project and, if successful, sharing my thesis widely.
Pressing that ‘submit’ button with all its warning about the finality of the action and no going back if you upload the wrong document, was nerve-wracking. I shut my eyes when I pushed the ‘send’ button. And now it is done. Fingers crossed! And huge thanks to all the support thus far from, to mention just a few, Michael Spencer, Martin Iddon, Mark Hewitt, Ian Pace, Sadie Harrison, WILLIAM APM, Caryn Douglas, Clare Meadley and many others.
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
the unimportance of events (2021). Premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for Tectonics Glasgow 2021
Here it is. The world premiere of ‘the unimportance of events’ for 22 players, (2021), performed by members of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as part of Tectonics Glasgow 2021.
The piece is dedicated to my friend and colleague Jason Eckardt.
This composition is my latest timecode-supported polytemporal composition and the largest to be so far performed at 22-players.
To find out more about the piece, please click here.