The Ink Mountains

You have to be very very thankful for your creative mates, don’t you? Even if they get you involved in opportunities to look like this time you’ve really lost touch with reality. You and your bleedin’ “art”. In fact, I think, most especially because they do.

As you know – because you’re an encouraging soul that pays attention, for which I shall be forever hopelessly indebted to you – I first worked with art chum and creative hero woman Hazel Evans on a project called Adventures Into The Monochronium, back in the late spring of 2012. A second incarnation of her exhibition as visual artist in residence at Lighthouse Poole, The Monochronium was an evolving collection of poetry, marks, storytelling and collaboration loosely based around the fable of a little girl exploring an ominous and surreal black and white fairytale world.

In six weeks, Hazel and I had written and completed a soundtrack collection for this, which essentially illustrated different chapters of the exhibition with music, voice and sound – expanding on some of the sound design installed, recording some of the poems, bringing sections of the implied story to life with melody. I will say it was a wonderful, eclectic, bonkers, beautiful little prog-synth fairytale album and still represents some of my own favourite work.

Hazel and I have gone on to knock up various bits of off-the-cuff brilliance together ever since, of course, each valuing an art mate who is fully prepared to couch it in such terms without batting a doubting eye.

At the end of April this year, Hazel opened the doors of the Shelley Theatre in Boscombe Manor to a new interactive installation piece, The Ink Mountains. Using the wonderfully incomplete evolving restoration of Percy Shelley’s charming artistic bequeathal to the people of Bournemouth, Hazel collaborated with sculptor Natalia Maslanka and costumier and performer Carol Childs to explore deeper a key chapter in the story of The Monochronium – and she kindly asked me to climb a tree in the grounds outside to ponder how we might sculpt the soundscape of the piece. And to see if I would be just as prepared to don art smock and lab goggles to play a performance role in the two test shows of the piece.

The result was not only a nice opportunity to pull apart the component bits of one of my favourite pieces from Adventures and evolve it into various different new pieces – a ballroom waltz, a metamorphosis, an ice castle, an art laboratory – but a chance to step into my performing trousers and help bring a highly conceptual show to life with an intimate audience. And to snoop around the Shelley’s various historic corners and cupboards. It was a hoot.

The upshot is that Hazel has been commissioned to share a few performances of it at this year’s Arts By The Sea festival in Bomo, at the beginning of the autumn. Which will give you a chance to see me in a very different and artistically vulnerable creative context, should you wish to get tickets.

I’ll zap out details of this when they’re published, of course, but in the mean time you can see a selection of Izabela Janik’s photos from The Ink Mountains on the Momo Flickr pages and also, I’ve now placed the original piece of music from Adventures Into The Monochronium onto the Soundcloud pages too, to give you a flavour if you’ve not heard it before.

Art mates. I have found over many years that they don’t make you look as daft as they make you look like you’re having fun.

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