To Scatter A Short Film
‘Suddenly Sleep retreats like the undertow of a wave in which a child grasps at a half-glimpsed shell, as I do at this cluster of notes, just heard in a dream.’ 1
The creation of a memorial to Irish migrants is the focus of this project, in particular Irish immigrants to Preston and the North West
A set of piano keys in the form of a chandelier is one way of making visual connections to oral histories such as popular song and ballad writing both of which are valuable elements in linking histories and experience within communities. A Chandelier whether elegantly crafted with beautiful materials or built for practical and economical use has a common purpose, to illuminate and radiate in order to allow a better visual perception of one’s environment.
I remain motionless for a few moments, listening for a fresh sound amid the torpor of the sleeping bodies. Now I know I was not dreaming: I have even more or less grasped where the music was coming from. All it was in any case, was the brief stirrings of a keyboard, very spaced out, muted by the clutter in the corridors, muffled by the snoring.' 2
Music and song has been a necessary and vital way for Irish migrants to remember events, people from the past and a way of life left behind. To play music, to sing about important issues, events in the news or to mock or joke about politicians or the wealthy, to sing about traditions, family life, love and tragedy has always been a tool for the poor and disenfranchised to vent their opinions. It’s a safe keeping place for unwritten views and future strategies.
'Musical narratives of all kinds have reflected historical and social movements, and have sometimes influenced them in turn. In Verdi’s Nabucco (1842) the captive Jewish people’s song of their lost homeland was immediately adopted by Italians struggling against Austrian rule in their own country. More recently the songs of Mikkas Theodorakis, even those that were apparently innocuous, were banned in Greece after the colonels’ coup in 1967, because they inspired opposition to the illiberal regime.' 3
I used the device of filming the recycled parts of a musical instrument, the piano, an instrument which allows for the integration of Irish music and ballads into an adopted site for meeting and reunion; the church, the public house, the home. This can enable a merging of both Irish and English histories of socialising, worship, contemplation and musical entertainment within a potentially political arena.
From behind the wardrobe shines a beam of light. I move forward feeling as if I had caught up with the tail-end of a dream and were taking my place in it. A man, whom I see in profile, is sitting at a grand piano.'4
Quotes 1,2,4, Andre Makine - A Lifes Music
3 Roy Palmer - The Sound of History
Screenings will take place at St Wilfrids Church, Chapel Street 22 April - 6 May
In Certain Places, 'To Scatter' presented in conjuction with Place Beyond Place Symposium
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