Art-making and performance as practice-based research.
This program explores the philosophical and educational foundations and outcomes of art-making and performance as research and practice. It includes the issue of quality in practice-based research, and aims to extend the educational and philosophical debates.
The Scarlatti Project
Renowned scholar and harpsichordist Dr Rosalind Halton from the ArtsHealth Centre at the University of Newcastle has combined scholarly research and musical performance to revive part of the exquisite Italian vocal baroque repertoire which has been lost for approximately three centuries.
The music of prolific baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti is still widely unknown, Featuring poetry and language alongside music, Scarlatti’s compositions are more challenging to revive than purely instrumental works, however the artistic rewards of presenting previously unperformed music are high. This long forgotten repertoire was originally composed both to express many shades of feeling, and to celebrate the pleasure of shared experiences in beautiful locations such as gardens and marine locations.
Halton’s commitment to this composer has been recognised by ABC Classics, who have just released a 3-CD set of Scarlatti’s work directed by her entitled ‘Venere, Adone, e Amore’ – the title of Scarlatti’s ‘serenata’ first performed in the Bay of Naples in 1696. This recording brings together first editions and recordings directed by Halton and performed by a distinguished group of musicians from round Australia, including former students of Newcastle Conservatorium.
The expressive vocabulary of this music is but one aspect of Halton’s research, especially the use of key and mode as a communicative tool for performers and audience. Vocal students at the Conservatorium are fortunate to have access to these rare works as well as Halton’s knowledge of Italian performance in this repertoire.
With a former Ph.D. student and colleague Dr. Marie-Louise Catsalis (University of Santa Clara, California), Halton is jointly editing a volume of Scarlatti’s serenatas for A-R Editions (the most highly respected US musicological edition).
The music of Vivaldi was unknown to musicians and audiences until the 1920s, and has subsequently become among the most popular music of the classical repertoire. Rosalind Halton may help bring his contemporary, Alessandro Scarlatti, out from the shadows.
Trevor Weekes is an artist and educator who exhibits regularly, with both solo and group shows throughout Australia. His art practice embraces many disciplines, specifically Painting, Drawing, Sculpture and Artist book production. Music is also an area he has been involved in, producing a sound piece to CD, and incorporating sound in several of his installations. A major topic of interest is Human and Animal Anatomy, birds in particular and flight.
For almost thirty years, Trevor Weekes’ practice-based research has explored the theme of nature versus technology with a recurring echo of flight.
For each project, he has undertaken extensive anatomical research which is very much grounded in science and biology. His technical prowess, anatomical knowledge and seemingly boundless ability to work across a divergent range of mediums all contribute to a remarkable body of work.
His latest work is undeniably his most ambitious endeavour. Three years into what he envisages will be a 10 year project, 'The New Bird' is an expose of genetic engineering and man's struggle to control his environment.
The project started in 2005 when he spent time in France at Zootheque, the Natural History Museum’s archive, which houses over eighty-thousand bird specimens. While there Weekes produced over 500 sketches of birds. His resulting body of sculptures and paintings were based upon hybrid and fantastical species of birds – birds which exist in the infinite possibilities of nature’s imagination.
"It's a somewhat ridiculous premise but the project is based on birds as we know them being wiped out of existence and replaced with a genetically engineered variety. The New Bird has a need to be nothing more than a decoration. You can order a bird that sits in your lounge room and goes with your decor. It is something to be admired but never eats or leaves the room," Weekes said.
Weekes is extensively represented in public collections, including Artbank, College of the Arts, National Gallery of Australia, The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse), as well as in private collections in the USA, Britain, Spain and Australia.
Art and the Archive
Professor Anne Graham
In this research project we intend to create interpretive artworks inspired by the location, atmosphere and archival material relating to 'The Lockup Gallery' at Hunter Heritage Centre, Newcastle. These works will provide a vehicle for initial exploratory research into the work of artists who are inspired by, and reinterpret, historical material. It is the proposition of this research that interpretive artworks can provide a metaphorical conduit to new experience and knowledge which is grounded in direct, embodied experience, we are proposing that the visual experience is qualitatively different from verbal or intellectually acquired knowledge but equally as important in terms of knowledge transfer. This is the territory where the visual arts function most significantly and it is the territory which has been least explored and understood. We intend to interview curators, artists and viewers and analyse responses to the interpretive artworks, we will also map the movements of viewers in the museum space. This research will be invaluable in developing appropriate interpretive, education programs which will be applicable in many contexts.