Antarctica Encore: The works of Frances Hatch

Frances Hatch at work

Think of the most beautiful thing you have ever seen and then imagine the music to describe that image. What do you hear? A sweet little ditty or an amalgamation of sound, creating ambient noise that precisely matches the image in your head?

Antarctica Encore is a ‘cross modal improvisation’ by Artist, Frances Hatch and Musicians, Cathy Stevens and Udo Dzierzanowski. The collaboration of images and music to create and discover artwork in a new form is an entirely improvised and a captivating exploration of the world of art and the emotions behind images.

The performance took place Thursday 18th February at Bournemouth University’s, Talbot House at 12.30pm. The improvisation was a fascinating insight into one of the world’s most remarkable sights through the mind of a passionate artist.

Frances Hatch was born in born in the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire in 1955 and enjoys the discovery of new art forms and nature. “I do lots of different things but there is a running theme throughout my life,” she said. “Even as a child I tended to like working outside with my dog, I just love meeting new landscapes”.

The artist’s most recent project involved her ‘bewildering’ and ‘very long’ trip to Antarctica. The images which were displayed in the university’s Atrium gallery represent Frances’ journey from the anticipation of waiting to embark on her adventure to the reflection of the journey behind her. “Because the gallery is located in a university I was able to put up works in progress that are not necessarily saleable” she said. “I was able to show the progression of a project and I like working like that.”

Originally, Frances trip was intended as a solitary venture, but after a group called ‘extreme’ got in touch with her, she agreed to be lead artist on the open exhibition.

Antarctic Encore began with an explanation of the Antarctic landscape. Various facts were thrown at the audience to help them envisage the vast space and lack of dimension which the Antarctic holds. “There is no way to define the scale of an ice berg or an albatross,” Frances said.

Before the performance the artists took time to enjoy a minute of meditation and prepare the audience for the adventure. The performance was delivered in four, ten minute movements to represent Frances journey.

Anticipation’ involved purely sounds from various percussion instruments and art materials from sand paper to socks with bells on. The peaceful noise created a real chill, sending shivers down the spines of the audience as the musicians moved fluidly around the floor.

Journey’ enabled Frances to demonstrate the clever use of materials as she scribbled away at her
artwork. Seeming aimless at first, the beauty of her haphazard work became noticeable within a few moments, reflecting the vast space and colours of the Antarctic landscape.

The beautiful translucent sound of the violectra – a six string, electronic viola – washed over the entranced audience as Frances painted over the mishmash of colourful paper which she used as her canvas.

The materials Frances used were quirky to say the least; from branches to polystyrene blocks it was amazing how she manipulated the materials in to creating something so striking. As the music became frenzied, so did her painting. The artist began to use dark colours, blacks and blues and painting quickly as though frustrated with the landscape and mimicking its unpredictable existence.

On Location’ turned the audience’s attention to a power point which displayed images from the Antarctic alongside the artwork Frances produced amongst the glaciers. Accompanied with the sound of jerky strings, clashes, bangs and the impression of howling wind, the third movement enabled the audience to appreciate the intimidating side of the beautiful landscape. As the images appeared on screen it was easier to understand the lack of scale she spoke of at the beginning of the venture.

Beginning with a quote from Jenny Diski’s, Skating to Antarctica, the final movement, ‘On Reflection’ returned Frances to the makeshift canvas. She went on to add colour to the previously bleak landscape, tearing paper dramatically to the beautiful sound of the Violectra. “It is not white and it is not silent” she said.

Mesmerizing, does not touch on the way that the three minds of Udo, Cathy and Frances work together to create such artistic genius. From penguins to glaciers, Frances’ project covers every corner of the Antarctic world she visited, great or small, and the astounding emotion behind her art becomes apparent when watching her at work.

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