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Interview: 'You Saw Sound, I Heard Colour' Music and Art Exhibition

Interview: 'You Saw Sound, I Heard Colour' Music and Art Exhibition

Images by Connor Crawford and Diva Ford / Wednesday 18th April, 2018 12:26PM

Auckland-based photographer Connor Crawford has been regularly contributing his stunning images to our site over the past few years, capturing the vibes of such iconic events as Auckland City Limits, Splore festival, and Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's recent visit to our shores. Crawford has teamed up with painter Diva Ford for You Saw Sound, I Heard Colour, an exhibition of photography and painting described as "a celebration of the ideas of community and connection that pervade music, art and the contemporary New Zealand creative sphere itself," opening this Friday 20th April at recently relocated venue Lowtide. The exhibition opening will feature DJs Slacmac, Mints in Toast, OJ Jones, Friends of all the World, and the artists have hinted at more exciting live events over the course of their week-long show. We caught up with Crawford and Ford, who generously took time out to lift the lid on their upcoming show...

Could you please talk about who's involved in You Saw Sound, I Heard Colour? How did you decide to work together?

Connor: Diva and I are the hosts of the You Saw Sound, I Heard Colour exhibition. I consider Diva my creative counterpart. For many years we have bounced off each other creatively and pushed each other forward within our practices. We’re on the same wave length, surfing the same astral plane, my dude.

Diva: Yeah we have been vibing for years, this exhibition is a culmination of a lot of creative energy and just a lot of fun really, we’ve painted together and photographed together and this just felt like a very organic path for us to take. We just started yarning about the idea of the senses being linked and were like ‘hey, let’s make something out of this!’

We are also holding the event in collaboration with Lowtide and their whole ethos is very in tune with what we feel passionately about, so it’s super exciting to be showing with them.

How does the show talk about your own relationships with music?

Diva: To me this exhibition is an ode to all forms of art making and the links between them. But music is such a trigger for so many different emotions and I feel like it taps into thought processes that sometimes we don’t even know about until we hear a certain melody or beat or lyric, so for me the visual exploration of that is just an extension of that relationship with sound.. Also music makes me want to move… my painting process is very tied to physicality and movement and response.

Connor: For me, music has always given me a rhythm which I can synchronise up with throughout my day. I find that if I have a constant beat, then I flow more coherently throughout space and I feel lighter. It’s this sonic pulse which drives my momentum towards any practice I participate in, whether it’s photographing live music or exercising to my favourite albums (this happens a lot more infrequently than I’d like to admit).

What musicians are featured in the show? Is it important to feature recognisable artists in your work?

Connor: The musicians featured are Aldous Harding, Wukong the Monkey King 悟空, Skilla, The Beths, Miss June, Connan Mockasin, Mermaidens, Friends Of All The World, and Wax Chattels. So we have a real variety of different musicians and also different sounds; some are friends and others we have never met but all are artists who have had an impact on our creative practices in some way. We decided pretty early on that we wanted to feature New Zealand musicians, and whose music we had both experienced live. New Zealand has such a unique perspective and approach to music and we wanted to capture that energy. Our art is also a lot about mood and experience so the live factor was quite important to both of us. Especially with so many venues closing down, there’s a sense of urgency in the art that’s being released and exhibited right now. We wanted to really celebrate the energy that so many people have been inspired by to do and create more.

Some of the artists might be more recognisable than others in a local and international sense but that hasn’t factored into why we’ve chosen the musicians we have, at the end of the day we are lucky enough to be involved in a creative community where there’s a lot of support for emerging artists, and for artists from such a vast and diverse variety of backgrounds and genres.

Could you please talk about your involvement with the music community?

Connor: Both of us have a huge investment in the Auckland music community simply because we found ourselves surrounded by / living with / creating with a lot of really talented artists and musicians. The flat we’ve both lived in really cultivated that sense of connection and also family. We’ve helped organise a few events and it’s just the vibe of everyone being keen to jam or make art or talk about what’s happening in their heads creatively with a very open and supportive approach. We’re both so passionate about music and there’s always so much going on as well, especially at the moment, that it’s hard not to become involved.

Diva: My experimentation with sound and paint kind of became a process for me after I painted the album artwork for our friends’ Bobandii and the Bandii’s single ‘Nazarite’ last year, where I listened to the track over and over while painting the piece. That experience kind of clarified for me an awareness and exploration of the links between what I was listening to and what I was producing visually, and that kind of started the journey for me towards this exhibition. I like to think mine and Connor’s dance moves get pretty amongst it all too…

[to Connor] Where does your passion for live music photography come from?

Connor: I used to go to these heavy metal shows in East Auckland that were held in a Church. It was a great way for people to come together and let off some steam in a wholesome environment, an escape from parents’ torment. Two friends of mine; Suren Unka and Gina Kennedy, would photograph these shows and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. So I Followed in their footsteps and have been loitering around Auckland’s creative sphere since. I also came to the realisation the other day that during my teenage years (yuck) my room was covered in live music posters. I used to hit up my local Whitcoulls and buy those wicked Twisted poster magazines. I didn’t want to see the drab beige of my walls.

I like to think that I make people feel like rock stars, and that one day their grandchildren will glare over how cool their grandparents are.

Is the exhibition a response to each other’s work?

Connor: It’s a response to the magic that we have come together and created through all types of creative mediums. I see so many collectives of friends and family, working in unison and expressing through art. It’s inspiring and has me captivated. Diva, along with many other glorious people in my zone taught me how to value myself and opened my eyes to the world of paint, which has profoundly impacted my photography. Taking a photograph is like painting a canvas, except the film/sensor is your canvas, and the light (information) is your paint.

Diva: I feel like a lot of the things we strive for creatively is in response to each other’s work and just kind of vibing off each other’s ideas in general. There have been a lot of late nights sitting outside and coming up with these crazy creative schemes. We talk a lot about the links between colour and composition in each of our practices too, which is cool because photography and painting can seem like such opposite mediums technically but we are both very much about the physical process of making a piece. In this exhibition it was more for me about these two different perceptions of a particular sound and experience. As much as Connor’s photographs influence my making in general, I wasn’t painting in response to his work directly, and vice versa, it’s been interesting seeing the similarities and differences in each of the outcomes and in how we visually interpret sound in such unique and personal ways.

What feelings would you like to create in the viewer?

Diva: I think all kinds of art making and expression are rooted in a desire to connect and to understand and be understood in a way. For me it’s about inspiring any kind of feeling, causing a response be it positive or negative. All of the senses to me are so intertwined and memory also plays a huge part; visual documentation of moments both physical and emotional. There’s a timelessness to music and art and in a way by experiencing these art forms we are time travelling and also kind of experiencing the inner workings of other people’s minds.

Connor: I want the viewer to feel the raw energy hat the musicians formulate through sound, light and movement. Most importantly, I want them to see the sound. Any feeling is good though!


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