Written responses to at first sight by Oliver Pearce & Marta Zenka

Late Works: at first sight

Concept

A trio - led by the voice-like cello and saxophone - “read” improvised writings “a prima vista” from their music stands.

In this case the process began by the musicians responding to an exhibition, but preferably it would be initiated by five writers responding to the musicians tuning up. These responses are then placed on the music stands for them to respond to for roughly 15 minutes. The writers have the duration of the piece to respond again, with the writing subsequently placed in front of the trio again.

The process is repeated another three times, with the writing and the music moving back and forth in conversation. The final writings are left as the starting point for the next event.

Lexicon

/aːˌpri.maːˌvis.taː/
• (music) sight-read; to perform a musical piece while reading it for the first time, without rehearsal.

In collaboration with:

Specifics

• The writers respond on A5 cards which are blank, unlined and have a line and a box for the writer’s initials and number of the response (T) (1) (2) (3) (4).

• Once each performance is over, the writings must be collected from the music stands to make way for the incoming written responses.

• The cello and saxophone are the core instruments, and there can be up to three other instruments added to compile a quintet. Preferably this quintet would be cello, viola, violin, piano & saxophone.

• The audience are encouraged to write their own responses - they will not be used for the music, but shown afterwards in documentation.

• The titles for the songs are chosen mostly ‘at first sight’ upon looking at the finished writings, with one title coming from each writer. The titles name the songs they inspire, not that they are in response to.

Part 1 - NOCTURNE

in response to the exhibition of the same name by Oliver Pearce, Jeremy Stokes & Peter Carrick. Listen to the music and read the live written responses to "NOCTURNE" below:

Streaming links:

Thomas Dervan's writing in response to the first part of at first sight

Thomas Dervan

PIECE ONE

the things scattered under the moon

were only silence

or, well, other things also:

the crisp shadows of what were olive trees

that filter away down from the mountain ridge

toward the sea, the white fronts, the little waves,

whose sound you imagine as quieter than it

really is

crashing and actualising the rocks, whose miniature

lagoons find crabs fluttering, the apparatus of

some terribly dramatic nightmare, fluttery,

prehistoric bat then also, fleshy, unfortunate,

and creaking, - remember, they have eyes -

like the configuration of things you know

will happen just a few minutes from now -

Hannah Machover's writing in response to the first part of at first sight

Hannah Machover

wire me up

       sit still                          bristles and burrs


we stood

by the lilies                          an insect on

                                              my neck

my legs were cold


sticky feet

and salt                                   Grecian

on my hips                                surge


stir me

a cultivated spin


a lark cried

in the meadow corner              pulse between

                                                     my toes


       FICKLE AND TENDER ARE

         THE EDGES  ,     I CLING

               TO     THEM


              Lest the night end

Lewie Magarshack's first piece of writing in response to the first part of at first sight

Lewie Magarshack

                MOONFLOWER


THERES THIS MOONFLOWER LIKE

NOCTURNE’S CROCUS RESIDING IN

AN EBONY LIP OR

ALL THESE TAUGHT STRINGS I

AM SPILLT I

AM FULL OF IT I

        CAN’T LILT HERE

IN FULL SIGHT OF AN

ARMY OF DUST BUNNY HONIES

        I’M ROPE-A-DOPE

        I CAN COPE

        TAKE FLIGHT AND

FIND A NEW DOGGERLAND

                 OR

        I CAN CHANGE

                 CROAK

        AND FEEL

                 GOLFO

Lewie Magarshack's second piece of writing in response to the first part of at first sight

Lewie Magarshack

                MILKSHAKE


PUSHING UP AGAINST PORES

THE MELODY EXCRETES ITSELF

IN QUAVERS AND QUAKES

DROWING IN LOST SCALES OF

BLUES, TERRA-COTTA OR

                MIS-TAKES

                       MILKSHAKES

                DISTASTE

       STOP CHEWING AND SPIT IT

               OUT IN POPCORN

                                  BALLS

                                  OF FOR

                      HER SAKE

        HIS SAKE

                      THEIR SAKE

                MILKSHAKE

Marta Zenka's writing in response to the first part of at first sight

Marta Zenka

It was syndicate ————

               live ——————

                        blue ———

Pushing around around the stars

slipping on butter con-

-vulsing whispering shh. shh.

SHHH hunt me

They said hunt me

I swim in oceans in salt

lakes in rivers I beat

currents I live in moments

I let my body become

it. ———————————

                                yes more

                        more more——

                 more more ————

        — i can hold ———— it

Responses from at first sight by Thomas Dervan & Hannah Machover

Part 2 - "what were olive trees"

in response to the pieces written live whilst listening to Part 1 (NOCTURNE). Title taken from Thomas Dervan's writing. Listen to the music and read the live written responses to "what were olive trees" below:

Streaming links:

Thomas Dervan's writing in response to the second part of at first sight

Thomas Dervan

PIECE 2

In obscure halls and corridors

some lost crumble, some lost island outpost —

I move, and within the air and the wood,

there is a sinuous expansion, a completion of

the trembling space among the sections of my body.

A shallow light is erected along the angles of the

wall; I have caught a window.


Outside there is nothing, I promise, except the

landscape, and the million-division tumult of the rain, vague

I do not find it ominous, but nonetheless it

is unbearable; it sees in itself the violent

extension of everything - the moon under which

everybody on earth, in all their positions, find

themselves - everything outside where I am, the

blueprint of every movement ever made, there is the

tree, swaying. - never mind, it doesn’t suit me, 

        I shouldn’t think too much, well, about these

        things, it makes me so ill.

Hannah Machover's writing in response to the second part of at first sight

Hannah Machover

rush to the plinth

and dwell amongst

blue triangles   ,


        strangers outside

        pulling at their

        skirts and the                        the sweltering

        quiet of                                   lines come

                                                       to meet you,

gather keys and                             snag at your

plant them in every                        ankles.

       lock                                         If you look

do not struggle  ,                            long enough

        tousle them                            at that

play and meet the                           form, shape

        other side                               it twists and

                                                        escapes

pity the bottom of

        these doors, always

                swinging

        catching draughts,

dropping hinges.

Lewie Magarshack's writing in response to the second part of at first sight

Lewie Magarshack

               THE GULL +

               In the crease of

                         I


       ‘tween the sea and 

                                   the 

                                        sky

        swam

                   a           with

                      Gull            a


                    Pearl

             though it wished

                   it could

                        fly

Martha Skye Murphy's writing in response to the second part of at first sight

Martha Skye Murphy

in July.

St Denis burned 2 months ago? The light

from her tower [could not be seen

on the moon, but] she felt it.

Funny that only one person found the

diamond.

My tectonic plate shifted that evening

because

I wanted it to.

Downstairs they only heard sentences

that didn’t end.

only.

The stairs become richer and more

flat. Housed by soil 89 years later

or eroded and worn, stuck in a

cupboard

torn

taken

plastic

rotting

so. possessive. so selective.

only mud, no sweet grass. But that was how

                it happened.

Marta Zenka's writing in response to the second part of at first sight

Marta Zenka

AND the sun collapsed

melted into puddle

            SWAM

into nothingness

————————

————————

————————

————————

————————

————————

               plonk


T  H  U  N  D  E  R

Responses to at first sight by Martha Skye Murphy & Lewie Magarshack

Part 3 - "rush to the plinth"

in response to the pieces written live whilst listening to Part 2 (what were olive trees). Title taken from Hannah Machover's writing. Listen to the music and read the live written responses to "rush to the plinth" below:

Streaming links:

Thomas Dervan's writing in response to the third part of at first sight

Thomas Dervan

PIECE 3

under the ocean things can shudder sometimes,

and crack, did you know?


Trust me, I do, and be sent apart, and

shatter, and split, even though they are

iridescent, and smooth and nimble


there are, also, I think, waterfalls under the

ocean;


a grain of sand, having many surfaces, reflects

light both this way and that, and this! and that!

way too!

and has meanwhile the vanishing point of

impossible masses in its ridiculous hidden

centre, or, maybe, I imagine, maybe

it doesn’t.


If the cuttlefish, the sea slug and the barely existent plankton, all of whom have tea and

biscuits at four and then kill each other - if they

don’t care, then, I don’t imagine you should either.

Hannah Machover's writing in response to the third part of at first sight

Hannah Machover

salute the gate as the sky

clears your brow


                Does that w?isp of

                a cloud tell you —

                ————— to

                drag your feet?


tickled by the storm and the way

flies tread on pages

                        so careful

                itching to point out

                the flaws and how

                best to wipe up

                the spilt and the stains

                                ———————————

rumbling strain secretes a honey

that anoints trembling palms


            \ all to endure the

                finer threads, the

                bringers of long days

            and        fuller        evenings

calculate the trickles and it will

             give you the form.

Lewie Magarshack's writing in response to the third part of at first sight

Lewie Magarshack

                SUGAR BUGGER


HE CAME HE SORE A CONKER

NOT SOME PONCE, NO PLONKER

JUST A PLAN OF MAN SPLAYED

PUT PAID TO MY RUBBER MISCHIEF


THE MUSIC DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE

TO MEAN THERE’S PORTENT IN

PLANT POTS AND HEAVY TOPS —

SO STOP AND HAVE A WEE PIDDLY

                        STROP


COP A FEEL OF SOMETHING BLUE

AN’ AIRY FROM ME THE

SUGAR BUGGER ( BUT LET

ME TELL YA KIDDA, IT’LL NOT

                BE TIDY).

Martha Skye Murphy's writing in response to the third part of at first sight

Martha Skye Murphy

Drowned and dangled in ash, white

a stone.

Dressed ready to pour the inches around

the shoulders globed and ankles

pricking eyes dry from so much

liquid.

        Run out of soap.

        Cleaning the branches. Snow for

Sheep to tread lightly on

and cheese for rich men to

gauge on in marble kitchens

with digital flames warming

the glass and their bones.

My thoughts in your minds.

Oliver Pearce's writing in response to the third part of at first sight

Oliver Pearce

when I speak in Lyrical toung

I spin storys not yet begun

some are new or is it old

try do what you’ve been

told, ————————

screech and scratch, like

a cottage roofed by thatch.

————————————

————————————

————

an itch that spreads like

butter on my leg n

        moving north to my

Dench teeth abduction by

——— the un cooth

Marta Zenka's writing/illustration in response to the third part of at first sight

Marta Zenka

HEBANA MEBANA

Part 4 - "teeth abduction"

in response to the pieces written live whilst listening to Part 3 (rush to the plinth). Title taken from Oliver Pearce's writing. Listen to the music and read the live written responses to "teeth abduction" below, which were not made live on the night, but written live in response to the piece broadcast on our monthly radio show By Ear. These writings will provide the stimulus for Part 1 of at first sight No.2!

Streaming links:

Lucy Rose Cunningham's writing in response to Part 4 of at first sight

Louise Astbury

Trains move on train tracks,

rattling,

sparks flare.

A flock of birds take off

from a tree,

rained-on cobbles,

kneading dough

with hands needing flour.

Red apron, pink with flour.

Red flour blends with milk.

A glance unsure, given to the night,

for there are red wolves in the woods.

Their eyes are very reflective.


The man in the hut warms his toes

by the fire,

a thick fur round his neck.


A bright green leer

peering in.

In some other place a being enters a house,

his scaley body makes the floor creak

under him

he is that heavy.

He is hungry and his claws scrape through and down the hall, he drags his tail behind him.

His belly is the softest part of him

he knows this as none are able to get too close.


Metal crafts shove buildings aside.

Mouth opens underwater to scream,

a million bubbles spill out,

the sound turned into circles.

Asleep in the leaves, cheek pressed

against them.

Body washed up,

fully clothed,

no sign of a name tag.


I’m walking through the building now,

white walled porcelein hospital,

There’s noone in any room.

Penny’s dropped, I am embalmed.

I must be embalmed

but my cheeks are rosy red.

Glass hands,

a ballroom dance,

glance to the left,

glance to the right.

My legs and feet are never where

they’re supposed to be.


Cars pile through the underpass,

cats eyes turn them into rhythm,

a chugging drone, wheels dragged

over dotted surface.

Bring it over into the light so I can see better.


‘It’s been raining all day’, she says.

- I didn’t notice.

‘That’s because you haven’t moved.’

-Bagpipes, I’ve been researching bagpipes.

I’ve always wondered how they work, and why

they’re so loud.

She’s already left the room.


They’ve been making eyes at each other

over the campfire

all night apparently,

What are they going to do about it?

Oh wait, I looked away for a second

and

she’s been eaten by a shark,

he fell asleep on the beach.


Sharky eyes.

Rabbits race across the field,

a lone boot lies squelched into the mud.

Jagged.

A door left ajar.

Kevin Boniface's writing in response to Part 4 of at first sight

Kevin Boniface

Blackbirds scrap over a milk crate

on Bus Queue Anorak Thursday

That bloody automatic handbrake!

It’s a busy time to be

                        idle to be busy

:)   Steady, lad

        it’s like that time in

                       Liverpool

Biba Cole's writing in response to Part 4 of at first sight.

Biba Cole

Her body, sloped in the crease

between the dust lining your gums

and the gaps between your teeth.

She lies on the padding of your anxious cheek walls.

        It is not raining today

    but the bathtub is full.

Spit - spraying off the lip, a

scattering not too far from here

carving space, sending future lines


to their shoulders,

right shoulder only, mind,

left lost itself about 17 minutes ago.

You have travelled here

only to find lots and lots of dust,

It could be mistaken for sand,

but just try eating it -

moving like currents,

        swarming to the crevasses,

there are no corners

        around here…

Lucy Rose Cunningham's writing in response to Part 4 of at first sight

Lucy Rose Cunningham

and it takes root,

this dry scratching

breathless aching,

the violin is scratching curving

stretching into my ears my moves;

it is anticipation

    is the moment

you want to reach out and call-

voice failing

reason failing,

it is the first time

last time you you you


felt and it wrapped me,

back of my neck burning slow,

strings strapping me tight

to the side of the bed

sitting on the floor

radio on the bed behind my head-

There is a clamour and a wind blows

as a girl enters in cool blue

no, maybe pink-red taffeta like

                autumn sky

                at night,


she takes her bow, strikes,

shudders;

there is something about the violin that hurts/holds,

it is quickening feet sore

from hurtling undulating

floor giving way to-

it slows,

ten minutes in and vibrato calling takes me; I could be in the studio

        but I’m knelt in a church

        the sky pink-red through pulsing glass


and it’s been raining,

congregation a little sodden,

making haste to pews

hard cold, the church tiles are hard, hold,

breathing juddering,

I wonder - does the Eucharist judder

in its own grip,

to hold

hard cold, the church echoes

                               holds

the church is arms fingers strings

                               wrapped

                               pulled stretched


a little warmth at the edges,

candles in a tabernacle

               is a cradle

                is a rocking

                               to and fro

                               to and

                               and

                                       and

myrrh takes,

burnished patina takes,

arms take draw in, ease

                               ease

                               inhale -


the girl in taffeta curves,

I imagine, rocking to and fro,

her finger pads sore as

she too cradles

violin to neck -

there is something about strings that hurts holds restless,

there is something that quivers, quickens me

push-pulling tightening, it is

how I imagine epiphany

        imagine loving

        imagine an entity I can wrap pull stretch -


- moved, the congregation look

to each other,

lower lashes lower heads,

let rain touch tiles, reverberate, exhale

on their heels to and fro

                               from the pew before them

the church is cold and echoes,

                               a shower

                               a pool

                               a reckoning

unfolding refolding binding,

the church is nails, wicks, deep space

                heartbreak reified

                is long drawn breaths before the body,


rattling, it is, was,

a clamour

now undoing,

there was a clamour undoing

a congregation, folding into

pews’ straight backs

into wavering candles

                               quieten,

unfolding to a hush of clerical prying

                               clerical, prayer -

folding unfolding, a hush holds restless,

                                       burning.

                               _________________


                ‘after the pyre’

More information about the writers:

Biba Cole

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, at first sight No.2

Biba Cole

Hannah Machover

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, Paperweight II, By Ear

Hannah Machover

Jeremy Stokes

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight

Jeremy Stokes

Kevin Boniface

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, at first sight No. 2

Kevin Boniface

Lewie Magarshack

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight

Lewie Magarshack

Louise Astbury

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, of Noise, at first sight No.2

Louise Astbury

Lucy Rose Cunningham

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, at first sight No. 2

Lucy Rose Cunningham

Marta Zenka

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, By Ear

Marta Zenka

Martha Skye Murphy

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, of Noise

Martha Skye Murphy

Oliver Pearce

Oliver Pearce (b.1996) is a graduate from Camberwell College of Arts, whose artistic practice is rooted in a passion for the history of art, to develop visual striking imagery of varied themes, exploring human psychology and mythologies in rich layers of oil paint.

Participant in Late Works:

Paperweight I, at first sight, By Ear, 4

Oliver Pearce

Peter Carrick

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight

Peter Carrick

Thomas Dervan

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, Paperweight II

Thomas Dervan

More information about the musicians:

Emma Barnaby

Fen Trio, Levitation Orchestra

Emma Barnaby is a freelance audio producer, sound designer, and occasional musician based in London. Emma has made audio documentaries and podcasts for BBC R4, the World Service, BBC R1Xtra, Audible, Politico, and other independent organisations like UCL and Somerset House. She plays the cello with Levitation Orchestra and Fen Trio, produces her own music, and collaborate with other artists on film and visual work.

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, By Ear

Emma Barnaby

Evie Hilyer-Ziegler

Fen Trio

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, By Ear

Evie Hilyer-Ziegler

Francis Devine

Fen Trio, sudo

Participant in Late Works:

at first sight, By Ear

Francis Devine