Sunday, 6 December 2009

Time For More Enchantment - "Peace Garden"

Last year the "Enchanted Parks" art trail won a Culture Award for the Best Event in the Tyneside region. I did a sound piece for that particular event entitled "All My Love", which was a site specific piece in the Rose Garden of Saltwell Park, where the event was held. (More on that later as I may have something of that to upload.)

This year I have been commissioned to produce another piece for the event. The theme this year is the Twelve Days of Christmas. With that in mind, I decided to create a piece that reflects the central facet of the First Day of Christmas, encorporating traditional Christmas themes and elements.

The piece I am currently creating is called "Peace Garden".
I deliberately wanted to create an environment in sound which is both architecturally sound and captures important themes.
In my mind were thoughts that sprung from numerous travels past the Imperial War Museum in London on the bus. In the grounds of the museum is a Buddhist Peace Garden and I would always look out over it in its corner near the road and want to visit it. The idea of a garden reflecting Peace as more than a state of being but as a concept and a place to contemplate and get in touch with that concept is one that interested me.
At this time of year, peace has a particularly strong resonance - peace and goodwill to all men, the power of Christmas day to stop wars albeit temporarily (the true stories from World War One of soldiers creating informal truces on the front line for Christmas Day and men of both sides came out to play football together). A peace garden is not only appropriate at this time of year but perhaps an essential expression of human need, distilled as a response to child's birth.

These loose thoughts developed further and solidified when I looked at the rectangular lawn space next to Saltwell Towers (see picture right).
The architectural aspect fell into place within a few seconds of being in the space this August and I could see a monastic cloister garden laid out before me, bisected on the diagonal. I decided that I would create the cloister garden using sound.

I won't say anymore in case I give too much away but suffice to say, incorporated into the piece are two different playback systems, a simple use of surround sound techniques, plainchant taken from the Night Vigil and main Mass for Christmas Day.
Within the piece, you may also find certain days from the Twelve Days of Christmas represented, at present the third, fourth and fifth. I am still toying with the idea of representing the second and sixth also, along with some simple lighting in keeping with a monastic lifestyle.
Rather than narrowing the Peace Garden to a single concept, I am wanting it to balance the peace we find we need as humans to be rejuvenated with the peace of being able to be free to live. In this man and unselfconscious nature co-exist, side by side.

I shall be there on the first night (Thursday) and I hope to engage with the visitors during their time there as well.