• intangible sounds

    Last week I was fortunate enough to take part in a performance at The Minories Gallery in Colchester. The performance had been created by artists Townley & Bradby and was called: Everything, All At Once, All The Time. It forms part of their practice: Grounded In The Domestic. It was performed by myself, Rebecca Hall, Isabella Martin, James Wilkes and Steven J Fowler,

    For this performance Townley & Bradby had created a soundscape of their family life. As performers sometimes we followed a script, sometimes we improvised around a set of given instructions, we all wore blue socks and we performed behind a perforated screen. The result was a glorious harmonious cacophony of family life. Statuses shifted, sometimes with subtleness, sometimes with a glaring crash. The children of the artists were in the audience and they giggled and gasped as they recognised things they'd said, things that had been said to them. Townley & Bradby write that (Grounded In The Domestic, by Judith Stewart and Townley & Bradby Feb 2015):

    "An art practice that is grounded in the domestic uses family relationships as both the medium and the subject. Collaboration may be unintentional, unnoticed, unwelcome or understood in diverse ways by those involved".

    Hearing what you said is an unusual privilege. Quite often we speak volumes, and a lot of it doesn't have a huge amount of meaning, but we don't always get to hear what we've said, or appreciate the impact of what we've said. On the rare occasions that our voices are recorded we worry more about how awful our voice sounds when it isn't restricted to the interior of our heads that we don't pay much heed to what we're actually saying. And it seems to me that it's only when we argue with someone and they repeat back what we've said that we realise what we've said (and more importantly the impact it has) and go to extreme lengths to pretend we didn't say it.

    Whether you belong to Townley & Bradby's family or not, "Everything, All At Once, All The Time" resonates with recognition, hubris, humour and familiarity. As a performer it has sat with me, gestating. It has made me think about my own family and how we sound. We're different now to how we used to be: since my marriage broke down we've gone from being one family of four to two families of three. I don't know how the boys sound with their Dad anymore, and it's hard to get used to that, but I know how they sound with me. We're developing a routine, a rhythm, it feels like we are made of of water as we ebb and flow around one another. Sometimes we'll all come together, sometimes it might just be two of us. We negotiate space, time, language and respect. We create a dance that shifts constantly - sometimes, to the horror of my sons, the dance is literal. We're finding out how to be a family, I'm finding out what it is to be the mother of teenage boys, they are finding out what it is to be teenage boys, on the cusp of adulthood, we are finding out how to be together, how to be apart. The one constant is love. Just like sound it is intangible, it is Everything, All At Once, All The Time.

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