MA Fine Art graduate collaborates with Norwich based trumpeter

MA Fine Art graduate collaborates with Norwich based trumpeter

MA Fine Art graduate Laure Van Minden was approached by trumpeter Chris Dowding to collaborate on what was primarily a subscription project on Bandcamp.

Darnesha Harris

Each month Chris makes two tracks, each playing a name of someone who has died or been attacked in relation to the BLM movement. Laure responds with artwork, and they send out two postcards each month, one for each name, with artwork.

We spoke with Laure to understand the inspiration behind this project: 

What inspired you to get involved in the project?

When Norwich based trumpeter Chris Dowding contacted me in June 2020 to collaborate with him, the public outcry over George Floyd’s death was palpable. I think this anger first sparked our wish to tell his story, and others afterwards, through music and drawings. Besides, we had been in lockdown for three months by then and this was the perfect way to keep creative as I couldn’t attend live performances to draw anymore. 

Can you tell us about your practice?

I will always remember how totally flabbergasted I was when, during my MA interview, Paul Fieldsend-Danks’s asked me: “Have you ever thought of performance?” The idea of performing filled me with dread so I put it at the back of my mind. Did he plant a seed? I now draw as I live, in the moment. I respond to live music, feeling it and visually interpreting its movement with spontaneous gestures. I particularly love improvising to free jazz and sharing the same creative space as the musicians for an ephemeral moment.

I attend bi-monthly participatory sessions with musicians exploring mark making in-situ and experimenting with sound making using my drawing tools. Unbeknown to me drawing has become performative. The language of drawing still fascinates me!

What have you learnt most by taking part in the project?

I’ve learnt to trust the creative process more than ever and let it decide of the outcome of the drawing, however stark its rawness can be. I am still learning that vulnerability is key to connect with the work and the audience. For me, that means drawing in front of the audience with the musicians, however intimidating that is, and not in the audience or in the comfort of my home.

What is the key message you want to get out to people?

Get out of your comfort zone and keep curious about your motivations. Try and collaborate with artists of different disciplines than yours. Build a strong network of people you admire and want to work with, while fostering and nurturing those relationships. They will feed your artistic life. I must thank Oliver Squirrell, The Artist Wingman, for his ongoing invaluable advice, unreserved support and listening ear.

How will you and Chris continue with this project in the future?

You can join us for a participatory drawing based on Chris’s tracks on the 14th October 1-3pm and for a gig on the 29th October, 8pm in The Undercroft. A retrospective of all my drawings in relation to the project will be on show during the LAC exhibition “In-Decision” in the Undercroft 6th-30th October. We will also be doing an album launch at Café Oto in London in January 2022 and another gig in Norwich that will include a workshop project.

What other projects are you working on?

I am excited to announce a new collaboration, “Music as Muse” as part of a Plink Plonk event organised by Eastern Ear on 21st October 7pm at the SFSC. I will be responding live to sounds by Surrey-based vibraphonist Martin Pyne and the movements of Norwich-based dancer Cat Westwood. I am also keen to work with jazz record labels in the future and strive to keep expanding my practice overseas, especially with France and the USA. This year, I collaborated with guitarist and composer Paul Jarret and New York graphic designer Stephen Byram, creating the art cover of Paul’s new album “Ghost Songs”.

Finally, I feel strongly that my work around dementia needs to carry on. “Homecoming”, my installation at Raveningham Sculpture Trail last month epitomizes the way I draw and live. The lines between art and work are somehow blurred and it feels natural…