Fermynwoods Friday 29 – Duet

Fermynwoods Contemporary Art often work with partners such as artists, other arts organisations and public bodies. The most successful of these partnerships often feel like a duet, with each partner working in synchronicity with the other to produce something more than the sum of its parts.

From 2014 to 2015 we worked as a whole ensemble with a group of artists, teachers and arts organisations to explore ways in which young people with disabilities could lead a sound art and music event that did not require special interpretation, but could be enjoyed on its own terms, using a combination of technology and audio visual interaction.

Working with musicians from Sinfonia Viva and students from Rowan Gate Primary School in Wellingborough, artist David Littler facilitated a literal duet, which perhaps more than any other activity in this challenging partnership project captured that magical moment when two partners become one.

One half of the duo was Tim Gunnell, a percussionist from Sinfonia Viva. The other was Tiegan, a wonderful student from Rowan Gate Primary whose enthusiasm for participation was infectious. Unable to communicate through words, with limited mobility aside from her broad smile, Tiegan was equipped by David with a carefully positioned iPad that used an app to convert the motion of her head and eyes into melody.

At times Tiegan would lead and Tim would follow, at others Tiegan would respond to Tim, each exchanging melodies as equals, which would overlap and counterpoint one another.

Originally released as a digital download as part of The Mighty Creatives regional celebration of arts and culture, Duet is a live recording of Tim and Tiegan’s performance. Far better than reading about it, you can listen below.

James Steventon

Duet took place during Sounding Out, a partnership between Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Orchestras Live and Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust, which was part of The Mighty Creatives’ Young People’s Locally Based Arts and Culture Programme.

In addition to Arts Council England, the project also received financial support from The Strangward Charitable Trust, Northamptonshire Community Foundation, The David Laing Foundation and The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust.

To read more about David Littler’s role in this project, please see the previous Fermynwoods Friday post, where David worked with Isebrook SEN Cognition and Learning College to encourage students to see sound.