BOAT (for Peter)
Thursday 8 - Wednesday 14 June
Generously supported by Arts Council England, the exhibition occupies the space in which Peter Grimes abandons us at the final curtain. Finding the cruelty of Peter’s fate unbearable, Helen Stokes imagines possible material ‘interventions’ into the opera, with her work acting as intermediary between the protagonist and the composer.
Ellen sings of her longing for a “silk and satin” life; the artist’s work gives form to these (ill-fated) dreams. Plans, too, feature heavily in the libretto. Thinking about Peter’s final act, Helen Stokes has used the visual languages of boat-builders’ plans – and archaeological plans of shipwrecks – to suggest possible forms of his rescue.
The perforated paper of a pianola music roll is fed into a mechanised piano, which ‘reads’ the dots and generates music. Using paint to work into sections of a roll, the artist has disrupted the intended reading of the music. Works in the gallery toy with visual representations of Peter Grimes, how Britten’s work might look if the full orchestral score was punched into paper – or how the sea, ever-present in the opera, might be represented purely in dots.
The exhibition is an invitation to rehabilitate the protagonist through a cycle of plans and wrecks – hope and despair – to extend his lifespan beyond his ending.
A booklet written in collaboration with music researcher and presenter Dr Katy Hamilton, exploring new ways of thinking about the opera, will be available for sale in the gallery.
Join Katy Hamilton and Helen Stokes in the Pond Gallery, Monday 12th June, 2:30pm – 4:30pm, refreshments served.