A brush with Baroque takes artist to new level

MOODY lighting, a solitary cellist playing Bach and the fluid movements of a partially obscured figure painting a huge canvas in Judith Wright’s latest exhibition takes art to a different plane.

“I’m painting through a series of screens. The front layers are transparent so the audience can see me as I work.” Wright told the Voice.

She’s linked up with cellist Rachel Scott, a personal friend, who will perform one of the German composers pieces as part of her unusual Bach in the Dark series.

• Rachel Scott fiddles while Judith Wright paints. Photo supplied

• Rachel Scott fiddles while Judith Wright paints. Photo supplied

Mesmerised

The inspiration for the series came after the internationally-renowned performer played at a remote community school.

Leaving her precious 1789 cello behind, she took a ”purple, sparkly stunt cello”.

She told the school kids to lie on the ground so they could feel the music as well as hear it, and she says they were mesmerised.

“They were really silent … later one little boy said ‘Rachel this is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard’.”

Inspired, she created Bach in the Dark and co-opted other musicians to tackle his works in the darkened crypt of St James’ church in Sydney.

“I wanted everyone to be in the dark, a glass of wine in hand — that’s the way I like to listen to Bach.”

Combining her music with painting seemed a logical step.

“So many people say they don’t look at me…it doesn’t become Rachel and art and Judith, it becomes just Bach,” Scott told the Voice.

White says painting is normally a private activity for her, so to be creative in front of an audience was an enjoyable challenge.

“I use the music as a tool to help interpret creative activity and Bach is amazing in terms of the imagery that I can associate with it.”

Known for her pure watercolour technique, water is a recurring theme in White’s work.

Her current exhibition Island focuses on the junction of land and water, the power of the natural environment and the interaction of human history and endeavour at the edge of this connection.

Bach in the Dark is on August 11, but White’s Island exhibition runs until August 21, at Linton and Kay galleries, St Georges Terrace, Perth.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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