When Peggy Glanville Hicks passed away in 1990, she left her home in Paddington as a gift to the future generations of Australian composers, setting up a fund to allow the house to be used for year long residencies, and noting that “it is apparent that leisure and silence are absolute prerequisites for composers if they are to engage fully the many forms of awareness involved in creative activity.”
This precious time and space is a beautiful gift that I feel honoured to receive in 2021, and to join a lineage of Australian musicians who have lived in Peggy’s House over the past 30 years- including many of my personal musical heroes.
Applications for the 2022 residencies are now open and close on August 15th 2021
Continue reading… (from an article written for Limelight)
There is something inherently optimistic about the idea of a year-long residency. It feels like an invitation to re-create yourself in the way you would like to imagine your life as an artist could be. It’s a chance to make sense of your work in a new setting, to form new constellations of people and places, to make up new rituals and daily culture-making that become part of your story of that place.
2020 has for a lot of people been a year of reflecting, and a chance to get away from modes of creating that are based on notions of scarcity and productivity. For me, 2021 will be a time to redefine how to create in a way that centers care, connection, and curiosity and (to quote a provocation from Fayen D’Evie) to identify my ‘habits and signatures’. To think about my ways of making, listening, and playing, and develop those things that I value most into personal signatures.
As I imagine the year ahead, I feel excited by the notion that I cannot possibly know the full impact that this time will have on my life and music.
I count myself extremely lucky that I already know something of the magic that a residency can bring to your practice…the intangible value of unstructured time, the heightened and sensual awareness that you can tap into amongst unfamiliar surroundings, and those unexpected and new creative processes that may emerge out of having enough time to not need to come up with something just yet…
The residencies that I have been on in the past have never been so long- 6 weeks at most, and if you had asked me what was so important about my experience at the time, I probably couldn’t have guessed at what would still be so significant for me years on – the idea or the friendship or the new skill that would take my practice into new territory.
Directly after the OMI International Arts Centre residency in upstate New York in 2016 (funded by the Australia Council for the Arts), I probably would have told you that I had played music with incredible artists from all over the world, learnt to sing songs from my new friends in many different languages, met Pauline Oliveros, and made music for some of the impressive structures on site, but I wouldn’t yet have known about the profound impact of my budding friendship with South African musician and musicologist Cara Stacey. I wouldn’t have known that her sharing the term ‘Hollicipation’ – the idea of a playing for oneself as a complete musical experience, where the performer, composer and audience are all the one person in the one moment- would help me to develop a way of playing alone which brought me new joy and satisfaction, and which would lead me on to develop new modes of solo playing, and to creating my first solo album ‘cinder : ember : ashes’.
At Time Place Space Nomad, a process based residency organized by Arts House on Gunditjmara and Jarwudjali country (Western Victoria), I didn’t know that leading a group through a simple durational score, played on a resonant bridge, would inspire a future invitation from Antony Hamilton to create a sound score for his next major work- Token Armies which premiered at the Melborune Festival in 2019, and that that process in turn would provide the chance to work with the Madeleine Flynn, who has gone on to become an important mentor, and who has helped me develop the skills to make further work for dance, film and theatre, unlocking a whole new world of possibilities for my compositional work.
For me, there is so much value in those unknown pathways that come with residencies, the rare opportunity to turn your attention away from outcomes and productivity, to let ideas slowly unravel and re-form, to get a feel for different daily practices and rhythms. Perhaps this is what Peggy means when she spoke about the ‘many forms of awareness involved in creative activity’.
But of course I do have some plans and aspirations for my time at Peggy’s House. I have three main projects which I plan to focus on, with each occupying a different mode of working. ‘Playtime’ will be a series of duo recording projects and house concerts with Sydney musicians throughout the residency. I will be working on a solo recording project, combining location based-recordings and instrumental composition, inspired by Jim Denley’s extraordinary outdoor recordings and The Splinter Orchestra (who I hope to play with a little while in town). And I will be developing ‘Stanger’- a major new performance work that will explore activating audiences as a group of massed sound-makers, which will involve extensive workshopping and testing with various community groups and audiences over the year long development. In amongst that I hope there is still plenty of time for daily ocean swims, long conversations, time to get to know Gadigal country, and of course, the unexpected.