I recently took part in a collaborative commission, which was part of the Yorkshire Year of the Textile Arts Council funded project at the University of Leeds. The piece, Thread, is a synthesis of music, dance and light, and was performed for Leeds Light Night on 7 October.
I spent a week in residence with Hindustani and Canartic musicians, a Khattak dancer, a lighting and set designer, and a producer to co-produce a piece that responded to elements of the Yorkshire textile industry, and Quentin Bell’s sculpture, The Levitating Woman.
Aside helping to structure and arrange the work, I visited A.W. Hainsworth mill in New Pudsey to record textile machinery sounds that would provide the rhythmic undercurrent for the piece.
Thread is a synthesis of music, dance and light by South Asian Arts-uk (SAA-uk), bringing to life Quentin Bell’s Levitating Woman, a sculpture also known as ‘The Dreamer’, in Clothworkers Court, University of Leeds.
Unveiled thirty-four years ago this month, it was commissioned by Stanley Burton of the Leeds tailoring family. In order to create a sense of weightlessness and flowing draperies, the sculptor, Bell, collaborated with Dr Gurdev Singh in the Department of Civil Engineering at Leeds to produce a revolutionary fibreglass cast, which has the appearance of bronze.
Through sound, dance and light, artists will explore the monotonous work both Western and Asian women and children were subjected to in mills and factories, and how these workforces developed artists expressions to hold onto the human spirit while creating beautiful textiles for the masses.
Keranjeet Kaur, SAA-uk’s artistic director, explains: “In response to a beautiful sculpture of a woman levitating, we have created a contemporary expression of music, dance and light to highlight the delicacy, fluidity, strength and texture that highlights our innate relationship with textiles.”
Vijay Venkat – Violin/Bansuri
Liz Hanks – Cello
Keertan Rehal – Vocals
Alex Delittle – Sound Artist
Jyoti Uniyal – Kathak Dance