A Song

A series of works based around the deconstruction and reinterpretation of a forgotten Lancashire folk song (no other contemporary recording or interpretation could be found). The song had been lost as a living cultural element, these descriptions of it act as markers of that which has passed. The resulting pieces of work interpret the trace remaining of an initial performance (its aide, the notation), before turning it into once more the trace remains of a previous gesture.

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The work’s most successful action is in describing an absence. The passing of time, the originary moment, context and action are all notable in their lack within these initial pieces featuring the faint traces of the original score in the pinpricked papers. The traces point to what has gone and in so doing create a presence for that absence within the archive.

(Exhibition view: 2012, Oxheys Gallery, Preston)12

The work came to exist later as another interpretation of the original document; a poem performed alongside sung extracts from the original score. This performance took place during an Arvon writer’s residency in 2013 – an old barn, isolated, in the West Yorkshire hills. This typewritten text notation behaves as a trace of that moment. The process of interrogating one trace leads, eventually, to another trace proper. Again, it acts as an aide to a performance.