“Rainbow Echoes” is a series of composed audio vignettes, woven into an audio tapestry of recorded interviews, field recordings, and experimental sound art. They cluster into thematic responses, engineering new and existing dialogues about coronavirus and the lockdown; they call and answer each other, echoing over a thirty-minute duration across the Norfolk Street Arts’ gallery.
The composition is intentionally participatory and investigative in nature. Beyond collecting colour, my key investigation involved assembling a feeling of lockdown, and “lessons” which we can learn from the lockdown, both as individuals and society: What emerged chiefly are the clear positive and negative effects lockdown has had on our own mental and physical health, on our work-life balance; but also the strength in collective communities, the need for escapism, the anguish of seeking employment, and a rediscovered ability to recharge and slow down.
In responding to Jayne Parker Johnson’s striking and colourful visual collection of visual artwork, the audio compositions exist to daw resource from a wealth of light and shade, and a rainbow of colours, from dozens of participants. Asking people to share “what colour is the lockdown to you?” is a superbly abstract concept, but one which roots so effortlessly took hold in the audio element of the project, and bore a rainbow of fruit. There are many blues and greens – perhaps unsurprisingly, considering how we’ve found a new longing for, and appreciation of, green spaces and blue skies “Angry reds” and “Pink! Diluted blood!” burst through the “monotonous greys”, just as Jayne’s splashes of colour pop and fizzle on canvas.
This project would not be possible were it not for the dozens of generous people who have kindly donated their voice and their thoughts. Deserving of special thanks is singer-songwriter Sinéad Livingston, whose lockdown experience gave her both time and motivation to write the beautifully gripping song “Echoes”, about a friend who had lost family members due to coronavirus. The crescendo and diminuendo of one line of the chorus became an emblematic signature throughout “Rainbow Echoes”; an echo of Sinead’s music again echoed by my own. Also, Colina Wright, who, unprompted, took it upon herself to ask her friends and colleagues for contributions, leading to over half a dozen further responses.
A full collection of contributors: Bethany Ball, Dan Brotherton, Danni Brown, Steve Burnikell, Danielle Chamberlin, Katherine Cooper, Phillip David, Jordan Davidson, Michelle Daykin, Hester Dowling, Eva Espinosa, Sarah Gledhill, Paisley & Glue, Liza-Jo Guyatt, Helen Hallows, Gemma Hirst, Jo Howell, Jayne Parker Johnson, Corinne Kilvington, Michelle Lawson, Sinéad Livingston, Kirsten Luckins, Louise Morris-Robbie, Dominic Nelson-Ashley, Rebecca Owens, Mu-Hamid Pathan, Marta Perestrelo, Nikolas Popovic, Merle Preslar, Natasha Rear, Lynn Robertson, Rebecca Robinson, Melanie Shee, Stephanie Smith, Jo Weldon, Sophie Willox, Mark Whitley, and Colina Wright.
“Rainbow Echoes” is Jay’s first sound art commission for a physical exhibition. Jay wishes to thank Vinnie Todd, Mark Burns Cassell, and everyone at Norfolk Street Arts for giving him the opportunity to develop creative work.