In the boom of the tingling strings
A new body of work exploring multi-site performance / intervention, collaborative working and the transformative possibilities of collective experience.
In the boom of the tingling strings considered how domestic music making can operate as a social activator, the role of the amateur musician within society and more specifically, the cultural and social significance of the piano, as an emblem of social mobility and aspiration.
Gillard is interested in the notion of ‘practice’ or ‘rehearsal’ in a musical context and revealing this private or solitary act in a more public domain. Historically, the piano could be seen as a signifier of the rise of the middle class. From its origins as entertainment for western aristocracy; to becoming the main source of music within the home until the early/mid 20th century, and most recently, ‘piano fever’ in China – where the popularity of piano lessons for the children of the expanding middle classes has reached unprecedented heights, with factories producing over 100,000 pianos a year.
The Gallery was transformed into a working practice room for musicians, with a schedule of rehearsals throughout the exhibition open to anyone who plays non-amplified music. Visitors were invited to view the rehearsals, uncovering a normally private act and nudging it into the realm of performance.
Other works included a song-essay exploring the relationship between the piano and female identity, performed by the artist’s mother, sisters and nieces; and an offsite performance, orchestrating a simultaneous piano recital.
The exhibition was part of South West Showcase, a recurring open call platform (est 2013), showcasing artists from across the South West region. The showcase aims to support contemporary artists working and living in the South West through a year long programme of mentoring and support with an exhibition outcome; presenting a long-term commitment to profiling and supporting the practices of artists in this region.