What is your favourite piece of art? What memories does it conjure up? What feelings? And why? When Jill asked me those questions my mind went blank, only to be ambushed seconds later by a swirl of images. The picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that hangs in my mum’s dining room has so much family history behind it. The portrait of a small boy clutching a bird, painted sometime in the fifteenth or sixteenth century, by an artist I can’t remember, but the child’s pale face and determined expression held me wrapt whenever I visited the Art Gallery at Bristol Museum. My sister’s painting of a street in Clifton, which has partly inspired my latest work in progress. And there are so many, many more.
So which to choose? In the end it was the Wilton Diptych with its blaze of blue and gold, and the memory it invoked of my first year as a student in London, that was the inspiration for my voice over in “Our Lives in Art.”
Other members of Ages and Stages Theatre Company have chosen their own pictures, or sculptures and working together with our director Jill Rezzano have put together a piece to be performed at Keele University as part of “Back to the Drawing Board.” A celebration of the life and work of Peter Rice and Pat Albeck, the parents of Mathew Rice who is of course married to Emma Bridgewater.
“Our Lives in Art” was first performed at the Live Age Festival two years ago and has been re-shaped for the occasion. Which was lucky for me as this time I could take part, not only in the performance but also in the creative process.
From our memories and our pictures, we’ve shaped our stories. There are moments of profound sadness, humour and uplifting insight. We’ve used music and speech and movement and, of course, the frames.. A brilliant concept that enables us by removing, or stepping out of them to bring our pictures to life. The only trouble is remembering where your particular frame has been placed on the set and the fear of not propping it up properly so that it slides with a great crash to the ground in the middle of the action.
I’m trying not to think about that in the run up to the performance date, nor of forgetting my lines, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I know that Jill will keep us calm and that we will all support each other, because the creating and the interacting with others it’s really all about.
Oh and going out there in front of everyone and showing them what we can do.