Sunday, 18 October 2015

Abridged at the Royal College of Music London 2015-2016

This was not what I had planned for my second covert artist residency.

However, sometimes layers of coincidences occur that really have to be acknowledged and given in to. I was going to go for something like a technical museum, concerning clocks, time, mechanics; and not something directly related to my own history and the steps I was somewhat retracing during the first residency at the V&A.

I currently happen to be working at the Royal College of Music in a completely different capacity, and suddenly I am spending time weekly where I was first a student when I was 18 and 19, in 1982 - 4, and so 33 years ago. Here I am really retracing my steps, and it almost feels like revisiting the scene of the crime. All those memories, all those states of being I had processed, suppressed, forgotten dealt with, moved on from. It's not really like a throwback - things have changed, but certain details, the way the doors work, the tiling on the hallways, the noticeboards, all trigger the old and new thoughts simultaneously - I don't go back, but I vividly remember. Walking along a corridor there was a smell which took me straight back to the 80's. Amazing. It took me back to the clothes we wore, the music of the time, the make-up, the hair, the boys, my great friend at college Lizzie Hayes who played the piano.

The way I used to think. The way that led me to how I think now, to what I am now, and everything that led me there. What a lot we owe to our younger selves and the difficulties we went through and got through. This residency is not about a pity party or regurgitation of personal stuff, but while my own history is certainly core, there are other wider aspects to explore.

The RCM has remodelled some parts, naturally - little stays completely static even in a place like that. Much is exactly the same, in that continuum which generations of music students before me had already treaded. I don't feel so traumatised about what happened to me there - perhaps I'll go into all that at some point, although I know it's not an unfamiliar story for an undiagnosed dyslexic in higher education. When something like that is so out of kilter, it has repercussions in other areas of life, and the disorder and lack of control seeps out.

Perhaps even ten years ago I would have used this experience to relive and reprocess, but now I am very aware, because of so many other things in recent life, that this is new time. I've done all that processing, I've done my time.

And so music. For many years since a teenager, the sound emanating from practice rooms was a familiar background soundtrack to my life, and one I somehow thought I would have forever. It's simply wonderful to have that again for a while. Quite a gift. In fact, this whole experience is a gift. Not may people get to go back to a place. So I cannot deny that this is the place which has presented itself for this covert residency.

When I was a student at the RCM the museum of instruments was in a temporary warehouse building in the back courtyard which is now empty. The museum is rather unlovely and about to go through a major refurbishment and rethink. The library used to be at the top of the building and is now on the ground floor, looking like it has been there forever.

I went into the museum, a student was there practising on a harpsichord, and so giving me a private recital.

Ideas crowd in. Already I know what I am aiming for, and how I will develop the idea of the Facsimile Box into a musical memory concept.

Abridged seems right. It has a sense of curtailed.

18th October 2015

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