Monday, 23 May 2011
Telling a story about "water" appealed to me immediately, especially as this project would offer a great chance to learn skills to work with new multimedia techniques.
Water is -after air- the most basic need for all human beings. Being of Dutch origin, but now living in the French Pyrenees I have lived all my life (66 years now) within an excess of water. But I realise that this is not the case for everybody in the world. Free acces to water will soon become one of the biggest problems in the world. Meeting people from al over Europe, from Iceland to Turkey, I learned a lot about the different experiences and -also- emotions connected to water.
Being a visual artists, I'm aware of the power of images to "tell" stories, but I'm also an addicted reader of prose and poetry and so I know the power and beauty of words.
And above this, now I could learn to use all sorts of sounds go enhance the content of the story.
For me a very impressive memory from my childhood was my first visit to the seaside of my country. Living in the eastern part of Holland, very close to the German border, I was twelve years old when our family travelled by bicycle through our country. My mother was forty-two years old then and she also never saw the sea before.
The place where we spent our vacation was very close to the harbour and the locks of IJmuiden, the last place for the ships to sail to and fro Amsterdam. More then sitting on the beach, my mother loved to spend hours in this site, watching the ships coming in and leaving for a faraway country. She loved to watch the last farewell and welcome parties and all the time there were tears in her eyes. I was to young to understand her tears then.
Before this trip, we used to sail on a small lake in our region. On board, my father, who was a good singer, learned us all sorts of songs from far before WWII. Amongst them this old shanty song I translated. I'll quote the first and last couplet:
When the hawser is thrown loose
When the gangway is pulled aside
When you hear subdued sobbing
And your eyes are burning smart
When you see all your loved ones
Weeping on the quay
For the first time you'll feel
what you'll leave behind in Amsterdam.
When the lighthouse is still weakly,
Rising high above the grey and brown
And the lines of dunes, so blond and pretty,
Are slowly fading away
When,while peering into the distance,
You see mothers loyal eyes,
You'll feel, finally gloriously crying,
What you left behind in Holland.
Now I remember my mothers eyes and her tears, which, by now, I learned to understand very well. I think this song expresses her strong longings to travel -her "wanderlust" that she showed later in her life- together with the painful awareness of the attachments to your loved ones and to the place where you are born. Attachments, you feel the most at times of farewells. For me, harbours are places that are connected to this double sentiments.
While our long stays in the harbour of IJmuiden by then might have imprinted in me the fascination for technical and industrial sceneries, subject of my art under the tittle of "Technotopes", I can see that my mothers tears might also have influenced my preference for the reduced use of colours and light in my drawings and paintings. I prefer to bring an atmosphere of melancholy in them, by choosing the time of the day when daylight changes into to scarce artificial lights, that -at the same time- hide and enlighten the amazing mysterious technical world we live in.
For my mediascape called "Wanderlust" I made twelve drawings of harbours, not especially from Bristol, but some could give the impression of being located there.
For my text I translated a "vocalise" or a "soundpoem" of the Dutch poet Jan Engelman, written before WWII. I want to thank his daughter for giving me permission to use this poem.
The accordeonplayer does not want to be mentioned, and the seagulls and shiphorns also have to stay anonymous.
Thursday, 12 May 2011
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
A giant leap forward today where we can really see how the technology has become our ally, not an oppositional force. Very strong stories emerging, some completely unexpected and taking me by surprise, great work from everyone, so happy to see participants become comfortable with equipment, and honing their story. I was happy to spend time with Jolanta at a very special boat and record a conversation with her there, to tell Nancy about the God of the Sea and to work with everyone on their beautiful material. Ligia especially deserves to be mentioned for her independent streak and the story of the shipwreck. Strong shapes emerging, a great walk for the people of Bristol to encounter hanging in the air. We are especially grateful to the volunteers who are totally stoic, generous and talented. Thank you to all!
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Sights and sounds started coming together as the members of the group who had already recorded their harbourside journeys were shown how to transfer images and audio from the iPhones to the computer. The studio space was abuzz with the hubbub of learners excited to see and hear their personal stories taking shape. Few seemed daunted by the technology. Some participants pressed ahead with confidence, while others needed a little more help.
Paddy showed how to upload photos and later demonstrated the basic principles of audio editing, while the volunteers were busily engaged in making sure that everyone understood what they needed to understand in order to tell their individual stories. It was clear from the introductory session yesterday that some had some very personal tales to tell, while others just wanted to record their experience of the harbourside in the here and now.
What everyone shared, however, was a real desire to make the technology work for them. The energy in the room from this group of people supposedly past their prime was impressive to behold! The spontaneous joy and laughter that broke out every so often was the perfect counterpoint to the intense concentration that was in the air. (Julia Price - Volunteer)