Open Arts is a community arts and mental health project run as one of the charities managed within the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT). They facilitate courses in visual arts, percussion, dance, drama and photography, with the aim of offering relaxing, social arts groups that offer new skills and confidence for people who feel they have a mental health need, and to carers.
One of its talented participants is musician John Smith, who composed and played this suite of pieces inspired by the group's visit to the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2018. On the recordings, John plays piano, fiddle and whistle, and Rebecca Rimmington plays flute. Here John shares his creative process with us:
'First of all, I paid attention to the works of art and made notes of points that I noticed' says composer and musician, John Smith. 'For one work, I was drawn to the smooth lines of the landscape and the distance in the view. On another, I saw the attentiveness of a child pouring tea. On another, the freedom in the line of a figure. On another, how the placement of food bowls and the tablecloth seemed to evoke a sense of calm.'
'Next, I made some notes on manuscript paper of musical motifs that seemed to me to correspond to what you might call the “design mode” of these ideas. They were little sound pictures but not literal representations, rather translations of what seemed to me to be the essence of the creative idea behind the drawings and hence, the music.'
'When it came to the paintings, I was drawn to ambitious subjects, such as the painting of a distressed child with a distant parent, or a figure in a doorway with an enigmatic narrative. In the compositions inspired by these works, I was thinking more in terms of film music; I was conveying what my imagination made of the imagined story, and I tried to capture a mood implied by the painting.'
Open Arts Essex visited the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2018 as part of Mall Galleries' learning programme. Find out more about Learning at Mall Galleries here.