Last night I took a group of 8 artists into the unknown and we slowly, imperceptibly over 2 hours slid into a silent white space. By open invitation via Jugglers newsletter 8 brave souls said yes to perform a painted or drawn response to a haunting music piece by British composer and producer Gavin Bryars. His “Jesus Blood Never Failed me yet” has featured on Triple J and ABC Classic FM and at 75 minutes it is a wonder it makes it into anyone’s space. But it does. I had wondered during this Lenten season how our responses might look on paper or canvas and what emotion might look like under the influence of a kind of music that is out of the main stream.I considered using Philip Glass’s recently released 9th Symphony but Bryar’s work had embedded itself in my psyche over the past 14 years through mediations and labyrinth walks. The “set” for last night’s event was a limited pallet – white attire, black, white and red acrylic and paper and a small spot lighted water bath into which I ceremoniously dropped a spot of red food colouring. The bath then became the wash for brushes and grew to be the centre point during the event with paper bits thrown in. And conversation was limited to written text. We eased into the installation/performance using some of Philip Glass’s works before Bryar’s homeless man began rasping out “Jesus blood never failed me yet” being eventually joined by strings and eventually, the inimitable Tom Waits. The performance developed into a crescendo of collaboration, concentration, reflection, movement, brush sounds, scratching pencil and charcoal on paper. As the little tramp’s song faded after 75 minutes something happened and we all stayed drawing, painting, documenting [film and photo] and just being there. We were in another space and silence composed by what had gone before and no one wanted to break the spell. It was indeed a white silence.
White Silence – an installation