Louisa Fairclough
Absolute Pitch

Friday 13 June 2014


Louisa Fairclough’s work uses a variety of media, including light, water and voice, creating contemplative space, and exploring grief and loss.

Absolute Pitch is a 16mm film installation, developed out of research with composer Richard Glover and Gloucester Cathedral choristers, exploring the experience of sustained tones in music and the relationship of pitch to colour. The work takes as its starting point a sketchbook by the artist’s sister, and continues a notional collaboration between the artist and her deceased sister. The work uses song, as the artist says, to “make beautiful my sister’s departure from this world”. At the end of the sketchbook, there’s a monoprint consisting of five lines that divide a rectangle of paper.

Five filmstrips thread across the width and length of the space and loop back to the machines. The filmstrips draw a kinetic diagram that echoes the five lines of the monoprint. On each filmstrip is a single sustained note sung by a chorister, who was given these instructions: “Close your eyes and sing a (B above middle C). Sustain this note for as long as you can. As you sing, picture a colour. Remember that colour”.

Printed onto each filmstrip in parallel with the voice is a single block of colour. The five film loops criss-cross through the space slicing through the semi-dark. With the lenses pulled out of focus, the projectors throw large diffuse spots of colour and filmstrip shadow onto the walls and ceiling, the voices coinciding as the pentatonic harmony shifts through differing degrees of consonance.

The work plays continuously. Visit at any point during opening times.

Absolute Pitch has been co-commissioned by Whitstable Biennale and ICIA Bath, and will be shown in a major solo show by Louisa Fairclough at ICIA, University of Bath in 2015. www.bath.ac.uk/icia/home/ With thanks to Adrian Partington (Director of Music, Gloucester Cathedral), Danielle Arnaud, and Elena Hill.

Whitstable Museum & Gallery charges an entrance fee for those without a resident’s card. If you don’t have a card, collect a free entrance token from the Biennale HQ or the Umbrella Community Centre cafe (opposite the Museum).