A part of my brain is generally dormant but awakens when I’m drawing sometimes, and when I’m creating songs. There’s an opening, an enlarging, a sense of being this person as well as the usual one. I’ve had the joy of experiencing that through Pop Up Arts Collective, with a mutual respect between us and an unpressured expectation that something will emerge - so it does!
The song I created in January 2020 for the BEYOND exhibition, called Light, Dark, Shadow, had a quicker gestation than most of my songs. Some of us met in December 2019, when Tany Alexander took the ‘Circle of Hands’ photo. That day I realised, on entering the kitchen at Abbotts Road, that I was going to make songs as my contribution to the work, possibly about the space, the work or the theme ‘Beyond’. This hadn’t dawned on me up to that point. It’s taken some years for me to accept my composer identity, beyond being a singer and teacher of songs, and I had never written songs about a specific event before. Later that same day I started to come up with an idea, the chorus of which has possibilities still, but it didn’t develop. Then in January 2020, Tany posted some photos of wet stone pavements on Facebook. I thought they were pictures of silken fabrics. That sparked an irrepressible idea for the song and it went on from there, even while driving – which I do not recommend! I managed to fit many artforms and tools into the lyrics, in the hope that everyone would feel included. The refrain harmonies came later, when I was preparing to record the song as I had promised myself, in time for the exhibition.
By this point we were in lockdown but I still goaded myself into recording the song. I sent it to various people and from that came the idea of a video of the work, to compensate in some small measure for the postponement of the exhibition. So the song and the art that inspired it met at last! Clare Davis and Jules Francis-Sinclair worked their magic to make that happen. Collective members were open-minded enough to submit pictures. It was a wonderfully validating process for me. So many firsts for me in this project – a song with a refrain, put together largely on one day, commemorating real people and their art, recorded at home, turned into a public video.
Since then I have created a ‘Lockdown song’ and continue to make myself record both that and other songs that have been waiting for some air.
Drawing is not what I officially do, but Clare Davis and my son Toby Leach between them have clarified for me that that is not the point! I’ve had encouragement from both of them and much pleasure from making my kind of marks. Two Pop Up trips, to Normandy and Sussex, were a delight.