Published: August 19th 2012August 19th 2012
a place I used to work at
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Forty voices – Janet Cardiff. Sunday 19th
Coughing and whispering building to chatter. girls laughing, little noises, clearing of the throat, humming then, listen in and you can hear the tiny extracts of snatched conversations from forty voices.
Forty voices spem in alium nunquam habui was composed in 1573 by Thomas Tallis and this piece was made by Janet Cardiff in 2001 with the choir of Salisbury Cathedral.
It’s an old piece and here is not the first place that I’ve seen it. The first time I came across it was whilst walking around Newcastle Keep 12 years ago. We followed the singing then
Leaning in to hear the chatter…
“I used to have a watch like that. How much did it cost? Look if you want to do it quietly, you need to…
yes, yeh, yeh, yeh.
Not at 9.30 in the morning, not when you’re hung over – Sunday mornings are great otherwise…
Could everyone… We’ll do a run – we’ll do our very best then after there is water – only water? yes, only water.
Don’t Poke it,
you’ll touch your brain with your finger…as his life essence ebbs away through a hole in his dead.
India – are you back?
open it – open it”.
And then the hum stops
there is a drowning veil of silence and it all starts with one voice.
I close my eyes.
from in the middle of the gallery, all forty voices sing in eight groups of five.
all around me.
sweeping me up with the technical perfection, drawing in my appreciation of pure singing.
singing voices pouring in to me, filling me with absolute, unquestioning, uninterrupted pleasure. The singing penetrates in to the hollow of my chest and pushes the mediocre thoughts out my head.
a new breath of life. 11 minutes of unbroken pleasure from singing voices.
at the still point of this room amidst the layered rounds of sound, I don’t understand a word
altogether, their finely tuned individual voices merge to create a beautiful solid unbreakable choir. sometimes calling, sometimes responding, sometimes imitating and only occasionally do they all sing simultaneously then they fade to bring the whole
thing back in reverse to one voice only. it’s very beautiful.
lost in time. not knowing what time it is, not knowing if it is time to leave or stay, or where I am – nothing matters – except this moment – true art.
Tynemouth Friday 16th
I watch the changing light
and the seagulls’ wading in the water to their knees chasing the retreating waves back out to sea.
In truth, I have nothing but fond memories of the place.
This place is not new to me either. It has been a constant gift for the last twenty years. This gift holds stories of my happy children spending hours and hours on this beach playing rounders and building castles, playing with boards and balls and cameras. I remember the words written across the beach and smile. We have run and walked across this beach many, many times.
All of the small things are here – ice cream, seagulls, waves and the ice-cold Icelandic Sea, large ferry ships sailing on the horizon line, cheese square from Marshall’s and all the big things – the voices, the sound of laughter, filming
through a kaleidoscopes on Super 8, wet clothes, footprints to be washed away.
All these things are imprinted on to this wet, rain-driven, pristine empty beach and I know I will always love this place – Tynmouth.
There are more photos below