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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Drawn to the Beat at Victoria Baths 26th of April 2014

Photography by Andrew Brooks

Drawn to the Beat was a participatory immersive work, designed to give people an intensive experience of listening and responding to music. The participants were led onto an enormous expanse of paper, where over the course of the evening, they were left to draw in response to both live and recorded music (via silent disco). At the end of the night, an enormous shared drawing remained; each mark a record of feelings and sensations evoked by the music.

Watch Roger Bygott's film of Drawn to the Beat here

Photography by Andrew Brooks

My role was to carefully create the right environment, one that enabled people to really listen, and to be comfortable responding through drawing. This environment encompassed many things, from the building and time of day to my relationship with the musicians. And from each song in the silent disco to every word I chose to use in my introduction.

Drawn to the Beat has always taken place in unique spaces (this was my third version). It began in the iconic Manchester music venue Band on the Wall (2011) followed by Fabrica Gallery in Brighton, which is housed in a former church (2011). It was fantastic to be able to use one of the empty swimming pools at Victoria Baths, it is a stunning space and I was given great freedom by Alison and the Baths staff.

Photography by Andrew Brooks

I particularly wanted to develop the live music aspect of Drawn to the Beat and the theatre of how it was presented. The space lent itself well to both. The night began with my brief introduction to listening, including a violin solo by Dan Bridgwood-Hill. Participants then began to listen and draw, at first in response to a selection of music via a silent disco. Immediately afterwards Najia Bagi sang a version of the song 'I'll be seeing you'. Najia sings heartbreaking songs beautifully and I wanted that impact to be felt as much as possible. The acoustics of the space meant she did not need any equipment and could just walk into the pool, amongst surprised participants and start to sing. And as I had hoped, she brought the space to a standstill.

Photograph from participants phone

After a short break came 'Dark Pools of Liquidity'. In the centre of the pool at dusk, and into darkness their semi improvised music took the participants somewhere else entirely. It is impossible to describe how they sounded; I can only say that the space was transformed by it, everyone was entranced and everyone was really listening.

Photography by Andrew Brooks

Photography by Andrew Brooks

Drawn to the Beat was part of Un-Rest 'How You Move Is Who You Are!' 10 days of installations and events at Victoria Baths 24th of April - 4th of May 2014 curated by Alison Kershaw.

Musicians; Najia Bagi and 'Dark Pools of Liquidity' (Dan Bridgwood-Hill, Ed Troup, Ian Breen, Ed Rowley Stevens and Charlotte Holroyd)

See a time lapse film of Drawn to the Beat here
More of Andrew Brooks' photographs of the night here
Previous Drawn to the Beats on this blog

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