Gesture and the Immateriality of Colour


When I was a child, I remember a friendship with a choreographer I knew through my parents. She was a dancer who had been cruelly struck down with polio in her twenties. She spent the remainder of her life in an Iron Lung. I remember seeing her and marvelling at her determination just to breath and to be alive. She used to love seeing me and I would ask to see her. She used to show me the paintings she had done using her mouth, They were amazing fluid colour filled paintings of dancers. I was always fascinated by this; wondering how on earth it could be done. From this time forward I knew that painting was the way I wanted to truly connect with the world around me. Painting and colour became a way of expressing my inner sensory world.

This  piece was performed in 2020  just immediately (within a month) prior to the Pandemic and feels now like a celebration before everything changed in the world. It is a Sensory piece and an improvisation. The Artist Daria Martin says “Synaesthesia can open up approaches to learning, perceiving and communicating. Approaches that might be latent but suppressed by our culture”. she goes on to say  about how Synaesthesia can “contribute socially or artistically to a matrix attuned to other thresholds of sensitivity.” I have always felt strongly that somehow translating my own Synaesthesia can open up a new form or translation and communication. This can be seen strongly in this performance, which although improvisatory and “in the moment” connects as if choreographed and feels somehow timeless.

The performance was a one off though short and transitory, and was borne out of many years of collaboration and a great artistic friendship between collaborators ,  formed over the past ten years with friends Portia Winters and Dr Emmanuel Lorien Spinelli.

The performance happened just a week before the pandemic struck and  is a collaborative improvisation and begins with myself working from the outside, and reacting with Gestures via painting dance, sound and movement.  The main premise for the piece was to convey the immaterial spirits of sound and of colour and ends with coloured smoke disappearing, and our breath drifting upwards to the night sky. The text I used in the film documentation is from James Joyce’s visually inspiring “Finnegan’s Wake” of which I have been drawing inspiration ,  and also drawing from a visual poem by Tom Paulin on Jackson Pollock  called “I am Nature” reflecting upon Jackson Pollock and in particular relation to his upbringing and ancestry. This all seemed to resonate well with the premise of the performance. A  moment, A performance, the act of Painting somehow containing everything .The title is from a sound poem by Maggie Nichols, written after her exposure to Engel’s Dialectics of Nature” and reflects how the experiences of love over time can be expressed in one moment in different gestures.

The film clips here are from two sections of the performance which seemed to me the focal points of the performance. They are points when the body seems to remember a gesture.



Oxford Medium: Single Channel video Duration (19 mins) Clips
  • Collaborators

    Artist Rowan Hull

    Artist and Dancer Lavinia Cascone

    Singer Maggie Nichols

    Singer Portia Winters

    Sound, live Electronics. Emmanuel Lorien Spinelli

    Camerawork: Brian Strange

    Camera Assistant Peter Farkas.

    Editor Guy Ducker.