Dust

Vocal monologue and music, with video (also text only version), stereo, 9 mins, 2006.

In the partly sung, partly spoken female monologue (spoken by Paula Berry, with music by Oliver Jackson and Greg Arrowsmith) a fictional hotel maid describes a song (the Brecht-Weill song Pirate Jenny, which is about a maid who looks out of her hotel window and imagines a ship that appears in the harbour, a ship that has come to avenge her suffering). The maid’s description of her song is, in turn, imaginatively expanded to incorporate various historical moments involving ships that do not berth and remain offshore, including the Norwegian container ship Tampa, which, when carrying Afghan refugees in 2001, was not allowed to land on Australian territory and was condemned to wait offshore for days in the glare of the world's media. A single unedited video shot of the view walking the deck of a freighter accompanies the sound. Originally commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella as part of the Single Shot project.


 

There Are Two Paths

Two-part performance (for the English Midlands) by two five piece bands, 40 mins each performance, 2003. 

Two groups of musicians alternating two verses from ‘Stairway to Heaven’. The verses are played by one band, then repeated by the other band but played and sung backwards. Then the verses are played forwards again ... and so on. The 'Satanic' phonetic accidents of the reversed song make lines such as "there is power in Satan" audible. Following the initial performance of the piece in the Shropshire countryside, the work was next performed in a Birmingham city centre square (this video cuts between the two performances). The popular myths of guitarists selling their souls to the devil in order to play the blues like no-one else. The English need to obsess about a rural ideal to pretend that the selling of their souls to the 'dark satanic mills' of industrialisation never happened. That kind of thing. Commissioned by Meadow Gallery/Ikon Gallery.


 

Flat 23

Music for three monitors, six channel sound, 10 mins looped, 2002.

Doreen Hughes, a former resident of a block of flats about to be demolished, was asked to list the objects that filled three rooms in her former flat. These words were set to music and sung by a lead female voice with two-part harmony, with a multiple voice backing by the same singer. This forms the soundtrack to static video shots of the same, now empty, rooms. The listing of the hand made furniture made by Doreen's husband Bernie, who died just as they left the flat, forms the focal point for the piece and the content of the main musical harmony. The work suggests a lament both for a human relationship and for the soon to be demolished flats, and a claim for labour as its own memorial. Originally commissioned by Further Up in the Air, Liverpool. Special thanks to Marie Therese Escritt.

Purchased in 2015 by The Arts Council Collection.

John Schofield essay referencing the work.


 

Lights Go On

The song of the nightclub cloakroom attendant

Music with video (also sound only version), stereo, 2 mins, 2001.

Nightclub cloakroom attendant Melodie Hook was asked to describe her job. These words were set to music and sung by a lead female voice backed by two other singers. The song plays out to video images of an empty nightclub space on the Sunday morning after the night before, the 'choral' singing conjuring a contradictory sense of unity and fellowship from lyrics that describe an isolated context with a very unstable sense of community. Originally commissioned by Gloucester City Council. Special thanks to Jackie Kerr.