November 22, 2019

7.45 am: The Diary (July 16, 2014 – September 4, 2018) was next in my sights. Inevitably, as one part of a website is changed, unforeseen consequences occur in another part. ‘To where have all the date-headings disappeared?’ Managing websites can be a supremely dispiriting experience. Expert advice was required in order to secure a fix. Nevertheless, I was still able to extract texts from correspondence between the late Stephen Chilton and myself about his painting in relation to music. This is the theme of one of the projects that I’m presently initiating.

In one entry, written a few days after his untimely death, I reflected:

During his final year of MA Fine Art studies, Stephen worked on a series which he called Musical Veils. The paintings were an analogical response to musical compositions by such as Thomas Tallis, Henryk Górecki, and John Tavener:

Whilst painting, the music I listen to in the studio becomes embodied in the paintings.  The sound enriches my visual choices in setting a colour response notation.  The sequences of colour applied, then oscillate with the base colour and I proceed to investigate the transitions of luminosity using translucent hues, each with a different pitch.

John Harvey, Diary (July 16, 2014 – September 4, 2018), November 27, 2014

Stephen wrote again about the influence of music on the Musical Veils, on his website:

These paintings begin with a highly-resonant colour, with which I gradually saturate the canvas.  Whilst painting, the music I listen to in the studio becomes embodied in the paintings.  The sound enriches my visual choices in setting a colour response notation.  The sequences of colour applied, then oscillate with the base colour and  I proceed to investigate the transitions of luminosity using translucent hues, each with a different pitch.  For example, I may start with with an ultramarine and then apply a cadmium orange, a magenta, or other highly intense colours, in order to generate a tonal range with very subtle gradations. As the colour superimposition builds, the painting becomes increasingly concerned with the absorption and reflection of light. The surfaces of the paintings respond to the quality of light and emit their own historical colour frequency.

Stephen Chilton – Fine Art website (accessed November 22, 2019)
Stephen Chilton, Dark Light: Tallis Magenta, acrylic on canvas (2013)

My intent is to complete a circle of influence. Just as Stephen’s painting was inspired by music, so my ‘music’ will be inspired by his painting. The processes underlying my compositions (as presently conceived) will honour those that Stephen deployed to generate his work. Inevitably, this will be a response to not only the art but also the artist, our friendship, my grief, and (I trust) the inestimably richer and happier life that he now enjoys in the presence of God.

12.00 pm: I began re-reading email correspondence between Stephen and I, going back to November 2011. How strange that his words can be ‘resurrected’ so easily. ‘0’s and ‘1’s coalesce into letters and words, having remained dormant for eight years, at the click of a button. I’ve no audio recording of Stephen’s voice. But as I read our exchanges, I could ‘hear’ his scouse voice in the writing, clearly.

What a piddle! I’d arranged to take my Abstraction module students (et al) to the Museum of Wales Cardiff on Wednesday. Only today (after several weeks of unanswered emails and telephone calls made to the Museum by the every persistent Ms Wildig (one of our secretaries)), they’ve responded by saying that the galleries which we planned to visit will be closed on that day. Rather than cancel the trip, I wondered whether we could arrange for the coach to take us to either Birmingham or Manchester or Liverpool instead. Other cities’ art galleries will serve just as well for the purposes of the module’s project. 

2.00 pm: Following lunch and a little emailery, I took to the studio to – finally – take the opportunity to flex the revised Crimson RF Custom Slim ‘Stealth’ guitar. It’s one of a kind. This is the instrument’s third incarnation:

‘Now, what was this knob for?’ The upgrade has wrought improvements throughout the guitar.

The original version, designed by Luthier Ben Crowe in 2012, had a sustainer pickup installed. For the second iteration, I exchanged that for an active pickup – which exploits the guitar’s chambered sonorities to the full – and changed the design of the knobs. That customisation required holes to be filled-in on the body and a new paint job. The MkIII has an improved tremolo/midi-enabled bridge, which involved recutting the bridge’s enclosure. In my opinion, all guitar effects (such as the sustainer) should be confined to pedals, rather than be incorporated in its design. Alas, the colour of the paduke fretboard has darkened as the wood matured. This was an experimental instrument. So, stuff happens. In essence, the guitar is now better and simpler than it ever was.

3.30 pm: Back to Stephen’s correspondence, looking for phrases that might serve as composition titles, eventually. His last letter to me is hard to read. Not because of anything he either said or implied, necessarily, but because it was the last. I’d received it on June 2, 2014, less than five months before he surrendered his life. I read it over and over in the light of the future, and made notes.

7.30 pm: Into the studio for the evening in order to deal with software provision for the new PC.

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