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This blog is written by Wysing's Director, Donna Lynas and is about some of the things happening at Wysing, or influencing what happens at Wysing.

 

 

The Source of Art  18 December 2014

How lovely to receive this Christmas card from my old boss Margot Heller. The inscription is from the South London Gallery's original floor which was designed by Walter Crane in the 1890s, though I seem to remember that the words are those of William Rossiter, SLG's first Director. The floor has only been uncovered a few times, once during my time there for an exhibition of works from the collection. More info and a photo on the SLG's website here. It's unlikely to be opened up again for a very long time as an addtional new wooden floor was recently added. Needless to say, even though it was inscribed over 100 years ago, the sentiment is as relevant today as it was then. Maybe more so in these cash-strapped and difficult times.

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Christmas Lunch  9 December 2014

We had a really lovely lunch today, very low key and relaxed, for Wysing artists, staff and Trustees to all get together. It was also one of the last days that we will be able to spend with Jesse, Alice, Olivier, Will and Julia, whose residencies come to an end this week, alongside some of the studio artists who will be leaving Wysing soon. We have one final event before the end of this year, this Sunday 14 December, details here, and then that's it for 2014, Wysing's big birthday year. 

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Officium  7 December 2014

I went to another amazing event this weekend, this time at the invitation of Wysing Trustee, John Bickley. John is the manager of the choir, The Sixteen, and alongside Wysing is also a Trustee of Cambridge Early Music, who had co-presented the event. Earlier in his career John was the manager of The Hilliard Ensemble and was one of the people who encouraged the Ensemble to collaborate with the jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek. They first performed the work Officium together twenty years ago, in Cambridge and under John’s management, and this weekend was to be the last ever performance of their collaboration. If that wasn’t special enough, it was performed in the magnificent surroundings of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, an incredible medieval building dating from the 15th century. The vast chapel was completely packed for the performance and, thanks to John, I was lucky enough to be seated right at the front and spent the evening transfixed by both the music and by the incredible wooden rood screen which was right in front of me; the screen formed a backdrop to the performers and I have subsequently learnt that it was built by Henry VIII to celebrate his marriage to Anne Bolyen! I really don’t get to visit these incredible Cambridge spaces often enough. Anyway, the performance was suitably extraordinary with the Ensemble of four male singers performing the most amazing polyphonic singing. They came together at the front for sections, occasionally being joined by a sixth person, and then drifted off around the entirety of the chapel, their voices coming from all directions and helped to travel no doubt by the amazing fan vaulted ceiling. All the works performed were early choral music from the 12th to the 15th centuries and included some stunning Gregorian chanting. Alongside this, Garbarek improvised on his saxophone, weaving notes through the voices, at times in direct dialogue with the singers. His contribution was completely improvised and was confident and precise; hovering between being a contribution that flowed through the singing and at other times disruptive of it. It certainly added a whole new dimension to those ancient songs.

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Perfume Genius  30 November 2014

I was lucky enough to get tickets for Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas, someone I have mentioned in this blog before) at Islington Assembly Hall last week, which was the last night of his UK tour. He’s based in New York, where he went to art college before taking to writing, mostly very introverted songs about fragility, insecurity, self-doubt and discontentment. I can’t seem to get into books at the moment, but I can get completely immersed in live music, and this show was very special indeed. It was sold out and the venue was really nice, not too big, and I was right at the front. Every single person there was a devout Mike Hadreas fan, hanging onto his every word. I think he was bit taken aback at how quiet everyone was during the first song and only when that had finished, and the whole place erupted into shouts and clapping, did he realise how appreciative the crowd were. It was like that throughout the whole set; breathless silence and concentration followed by shouts of encouragement and applause. He's an amazing songwriter, often compared to Elliot Smith, and an unpredictable and thrilling performer. Towards the end, someone shouted ‘we love you Mike’ and he said ‘I love you too’ and everyone meant it. I was very happy to have been there.

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Lalbagh  24 November 2014

We had a really nice dinner at the local Indian restaurant, Lalbagh, in Bourn last week. Absolutely delicious food and great company - current artists-in-residence and some Wysing staff. 

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