A Review by Lynette Snedden

Flowers versus Portraits Public At Gathering. 13th March 2008
Featuring: Nicola Atkinson Does Fly – Abbeyview Artist, Hanna Tuulikki, Gerald Love, Daniel Jewesbury and Clare Barclay

I sat at the back of the hall, trying to keep a low profile. Nicola called me over and asked me if I would ask everyone to take there seats as the exhibition was about to begin. I did so in the least nervous voice that I could muster, then as Nicola, accompanied by Ben Reynolds on guitar, started their piece, I crept back to my seat.

As the guitar melody filled the hall, I felt a shiver of excitement; this was what we had worked for. Then Nicola’s voice joined the haunting melody. The song was from The Flowers of the Season, and a screen behind the performers showed beautiful illustrations by Cecily Barker, from 1925. The song reminded me of the old Scottish folk songs which where sang in Gaelic, and had a ‘Clannad’ feel to it. I enjoyed the song immensely and by the sound of the applause, the audience thought likewise. The song and drawings combined, had me enthralled from start to finish.

As they finished, my nerves started to show. Thankfully it was dark at the back of the hall and no-one could see how much I was shaking. I was more nervous for Hanna Tuulikki, she stood to one side looking petrified as our CD began and the slideshow of portraits she had drew, came to life together, for the first time. We had spent 7 weeks traveling around the Abbeyview area, hi-jacking unsuspecting people into singing musical notes for us. No-one was safe! The staff and students at the Tryst Centre, on a snowy, freezing cold afternoon, the staff and scared looking punters of the local bookmakers, even the local librarian lent her ‘’shy’’ voice to our quest! The list goes on and on… local schools, nursery children, local residents ‘’captured’’ on their doorsteps, and almost everyone asked, gave there all. The portraits of everyone who gave us a note, shone for all to see, some of the portrayed smiles, smiling for real as they saw themselves on the screen, these the result of photographs that Hanna had taken as she recorded them singing. It displayed all together like that, was everything I had hoped and more, Hanna had done a fantastic job, and the proof was there, literally in black and white.

We then where treated to a piece of music called ‘All I have to do is sit and wait ‘ inspired by the bus route from Dunfermline Town Centre to Abbeyview. The duration is 18 min. the same length as the journey, written by a musician called Gerald Love of the Teenage Fanclub music band. Because of the length of the piece, the audience members began quietly chatting with each other. I had to smile at this as, having ridden the bus on that particular route, I found myself on that journey again, in my minds eye and could imagine the different views from the window. The shops, houses, gardens and even the traffic lights all clearly pictured. I also felt myself relaxing more as it played. This is a beautiful piece of music, and I look forward to hearing more of Gerald’s music in the future.

Next to take the stage, was Daniel Jewesbury, an artist and writer, based in Belfast. He brought with him some of his ideas on public art. He made some very interesting points on what exactly public art was, and how we are sometimes mislead to believe that what we think is public art, isn’t always what it seems to be. He spoke of a particular statue, the ---- in ----. This was always believed to be classed as public art, when in fact the piece of land that it stood on, was actually privately owned, and as the public never actually asked for this to be put there, what gave the donators of the piece the right to call it public art. Daniel paced the stage, expressing with his hands as he spoke, this along with his passion for the subject, had the audience intrigued. He received a well deserved round of applause. And added kudo’s must be bestowed upon him for his dedication to his work, he had travelled that very day from Ireland to appear at the exhibition, was absolutely exhausted but went and gave his talk like he had just stepped from his house on his way to a party!

The final artist of the evening was Clare Barclay, she had completed her project, ‘’We Need More and Different Flags’’ by placing some of her 40 flags around the Abbeyview area and had more strung up around the hall. She had designed and made each and every flag there. A huge variety of colours and shapes adorned them. The flags that where on display in the hall, where gifted to the visitors of the exhibition. A few of the children who attended also posed for the resident camera man with the bonnie banners. Every one of the flags shown brought a colourful glow of warmth on an otherwise cold and dreary night. The weather may have kept a lot of people indoors, but to those who did attend, I would personally like to thank you for making the evening a huge success for myself and everyone involved.

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