'Painting for 18 Musicians'

Painting for 18 Musicians, by Lorna Robertson 2021

This new painting is about exploring the possibilities of using colour to express sound - taking a deeper dive into the ideas that developed Implicate Order, of visualising musical time, movement, and rhythm.

After Implicate Order, I couldn't decide 'what' to paint. We were still mostly in lockdown and Implicate Order had started out as a drawing of Nick's home studio in our flat. Besides plants, I couldn't really think of anything interesting at home to draw.

Eventually I felt the idea that I found most fascinating painting Implicate Order was the process of 'visualising' the music. During lockdown, music was the thing readily available via records & streaming, so I began to 'visualise music' as my subject to ‘observe’.

The painting took form while I was thinking about the continuous curves of sound waves, and how a digital sound recording is split into tiny discrete chunks (many thousands per second). I was listing to Alice Coltrane and the new album by Emma-Jean Thackray, and when lockdown lifted we went to see a live performance of Steve Reich's 'Music for 18 Musicians', a minimalist composition that blew my mind.

Bringing these elements together I started working to explore my relationship between music and painting, how both art forms 'break' with the natural world and create a space for abstract, even spiritual thought.