Ancient and modern

Tue, 29 May 2012 13:12:00 BST

monty adkins A NEW CD from a University of Huddersfield professor contains compositions inspired by an ancient and intriguing Japanese art form.

But when he came to write the music that can be heard on the disc, named ‘Four Shibusa’, Professor Monty Adkins (pictured) was at pains not to attempt an imitation of Japanese music.

“I didn’t want to produce something that was a crossover, mixing eastern and western cultures,” he said.  “I was much more interested in trying to develop something that was a response to Japanese culture rather than a mere appropriation of it.”

The new disc, which contains four compositions featuring a clarinet duo plus electronic sounds, is one of the products of a fruitful project for which Professor Adkins teamed up with visual artist Pip Dickens.  It has also resulted in a new book, named ‘Shibusa – Extracting Beauty’, which is published by the University of Huddersfield press.

The composer and the artist began to collaborate three years ago and secured a Leverhulme Trust award that enabled Pip Dickens to become an artist-in-residence at the University of Huddersfield.  She and Monty Adkins then began to work together on a project, in which they responded, visually and musically, to Japanese katagami stencils.

Made from fragile mulberry paper, these are functional objects that are used to dye kimonos.  But they are increasingly prized as exquisite works of art in their own right.

The stencils would be used to build up layers of colour on kimonos, and Professor Adkins and Pip Dickens drew inspiration from this when they created their artworks.

monty adkins album “Instead of composing a piece from beginning to end, I composed lots and lots of layers and when I was mixing the piece I allowed those layers to come to the fore and then recede into the  background.  You have eight or nine things happening all the way through the piece and at certain points material becomes more or less transparent and allows other elements to come through,” said Professor Adkins.

His collaboration with Pip Dickens led to an exhibition earlier this year at London’s Anglo-Japanese Institute.  The room was hung with 18 paintings inspired by katagami stencils and the music inspired by them was played on a 45-minute loop.  The project was so successful that next year it will be mounted at Kyoto in Japan.

 

  • The CD ‘Four Shibusa’ – also available as a digital download – is released by Audiobulb Records (http://www.audiobulb.com/).  The title comes from a Japanese concept which describes the inherent beauty in everyday objects.

 

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