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How did you come to be working with artist Richard Wincer on the
Two Rivers production?
3rd December 2021, Hannah, Liverpool
Thank you for your question, I’ll offer a short version of the background and development of the piece.
When IOU’s Artistic Director, David Wheeler, began to re-imagine a new
incarnation of the sound installation Long Division, he designed and made a
large wooden desk, reminiscent of a museum display desk. He asked
Richard Wincer, who is known to have a way with wood, to make nine
more. The ten desks were intended to form an aisle for viewers to walk
down towards a clock tower. It was later, when David was considering
ways that people scratch and carve into desk lids, that he called on Richard
to then make carvings into all the desktops, responding to the text that I
wrote for Long Division.
Long Division was first created by a team of IOU artists for The Magic Hour
at Oxford Botanic Gardens. The text was inspired by the theme of Twilight,
and I imagined it as a precious time where day and night pass by one
another, longing to meet and briefly able to mingle. I wrote a series of
rhyming couplets, sixty for a male voice and sixty for a female. Dan
Morrison created the soundtrack by manipulating, stretching and bending
the recorded voices in a variety of ways, developing a pattern of cycles
within cycles from the rhythmic speech patterns.
This soundtrack, where the two voices alternate in a whispered exchange,
provides the undercurrent for Two Rivers. We agreed that a river would be
carved to meander through the desktops and provide a sense of flow.
Richard studied the rhyming couplets, singling out lines that sang out for
him. The text is full of images and Richard noted some that he felt
particularly resonated for him and could be translated into carvings. I
searched out a whole raft of pictures and pinned black and white prints
onto the wall. Richard used these images as a basis for his carvings and we
discussed the placement of them on the wooden boards.
The carvings carry intimations of myth and folklore and aim to evoke a
sense of place, where worlds meet. They convey impressions of characters,
along with snippets of life-story, revealing life taking place at the edges of
the parallel rivers. Passing moments are fixed in time and scored into
wood. Some lines of poetry were selected to mingle with the images and
the avenue of desks has echoes of a schoolroom, museum or cloisters,
colliding with sensations of rural landscape, gardens and river banks.
Richard and I have known each other since we both took refuge in the Art
Room at school, a long time ago! Collaborating on Two Rivers has been a
new and delightful experience for us. There is a delicate balance in
combining text and imagery and we have intuitively felt our way to a field
of connections that feels both solid and elusive. Richard’s skill in
wood-carving has been developed over the years in sculptural objects and
woodblock prints and it has been an inspiration to witness his ability to
transform poetic ideas and images into chiselled marks and forms.
I hope this gives you an idea of some of the elements in the collaborative
Best Wishes, Louise