Angels are … Things we share

The last fine art studio project of the semester, Attention is a task we share, you and I was swiftly overtaken by events.
And the studio briefing itself … it’s unlikely I’ll be doing anything like that again anytime soon … if ever.

During the make Angel project I had an important discussion with one of my colleagues: Did we think that we could ‘do’ one of the projects that we set for the students. Was it possible, given our knowledge of the subject, and how would it feel to work in such a way; would it give us any insight into the difficulties that all students face when trying to engage with the requirements of a particular brief and/or thematic subject … these were some of the things we talked about.
A few days later, in the spirit of shared scholarship, that’s exactly what I did. I started work on make Angel (see my earlier post), and my last studio talk was about how I got on.

I began with Albrecht Dürer and Rory McEwen and Ruskin … wove in poets Poliziano, Rainer Marie Rilke and Edward Thomas, Sami ceremonial drums (cognitive maps; shamanism), A.R. Penck, Robert Walser and finished my talk with a warm and gentle photograph, taken in 1976 by Czesław Siegieda, of three angels waiting … for their call during a rehearsal for a nativity play … waiting … for their futures …

How the world has changed since that final image came up on the screen in studio 3 on Monday the 9th March.

I recently heard Angel (1993) by James MacMillan on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Night Tracks’ (Tuesday May 5th). It was performed by John York.
This lullaby was a gift to his daughter Catherine, and it was composed after a Sikh friend told him that according to his religion angels were present in any household where there were young children. The serene miniature MacMillan created was an attempt to evoke this parallel world of heavenly beings. I recall reading in ‘Silence’ (a collection of John Cage’s lectures) of Cage’s wish to be able to record the sound of mushroom spores falling to the floor of the wood … I hear in Angel by MacMillan the sound of dandelion seeds being carried on the wind and gently touching down in fields and gardens.