Mother and Child by the Sea
Johan Christian Dahl
I chose this romantic seascape for Dahl’s use of lighting. I like the way the moon is the only source of light, creating the reflections off the sea and the silhouettes of the figures and the fishing boat. It also highlights the layers found within the background of the painting, from the stormy clouds with moonlight piercing through, the calm sunset and water, to the craggy rocks. This has inspired my compositions background which will consist of four layers, each reflecting the elements and textures present within the painting.
Another aspect of the painting which drew me in was the way the figures present are silhouetted in shadows, cloaking them in mystery. The figure of the mother seems caring, holding the child, and standing stoically without showing much emotion through the position of her body. The child on the other hand shows excitement through the way they are reaching out towards the boat. I wish to portray their characters through my music, evoking their personalities through gestural material. The mother will have a gesture with a steadfast quality which influences the more erratic gestures which portray the child.
The boat is also shrouded in mystery. Dahl’s mentor and father figure died before he finished this work and I would therefore like to add a mournful tone to my composition, achieved through a melancholy setting and a reflective quality to the slow treatment of layers. I have been listening to Bernard Parmegiani’s Polyphonie which demonstrates the gradual interweaving of these layers which I would like to achieve within my composition. Inserted is his work:
For further reading here is an article from the telegraph about Mother and Child by the Sea and the Moonrise over Europe Exhibit at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in 2006.
A beach near Trouville – Eugene Boudin
We were encouraged this week to visit the Barber institute’s archives and explore the histories behind our chosen works. It was not only fascinating to learn the life of my painting beyond the gallery but also quite valuable in illuminating some of the mysteries of it, and gaining some alternative perspectives. Among the archives were correspondence between curators discussing the piece (many of whom shared the opinion that this was a particularly uninteresting product of Boudin’s output), details of restoration projects and even a photograph taken from approximately the same location Boudin painted from (see left). Interestingly I learnt that this piece was produced not long after a serious growth in tourism for the Trouville area, with many rich families utilising local investment in transport infrastructure to visit the scenic coasts for as short as a weekend.
From studying more of Boudin’s paintings I had noted a noticeable lack of human activity in my chosen work so spent some time speculating the relevance of this. The timeline of these events might suggest Boudin had been underwhelmed by the international provenance Trouville was gaining and so chose to paint a subject reflecting a less superficial or divisive relationship between people and the landscape. Whether true or not, the remote simplicity captured here really inspired me. With this in mind I took a trip last week to Crosby beach in Liverpool in the hope that I could capture a similarly fresh sense of environment through sound. Despite my explorations being cut short by the endeavours of storm Dorris I felt quite successful in what I had recorded and have attached a short collage of recordings below. I hope to use this material to help establish a sense of being on the Trouville coastline with the rich sensory experience this accommodates, before exploring individual sound objects and materials associated with such environments in more detail later on.