Almost Independence Day: ‘A study in Ornamental Composition’ //

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The Artist Statement
‘A study in Ornamental Composition’
Is inspired by the final track on Van
Morrison’s 1972 album ‘Saint Dominic’s
Introduction / Inspiration / analysis
For me – Van Morrison’s seminal 10 minute
track ‘Almost Independence Day’ seems to
connect the awe-inspiring power of the sea
with emotional intensity & longing.
Written in the early 70’s – the track
represents the physical and abstract
descriptions of a vast Pacific Ocean as seen
from San Francisco bay.
With the rolling repetitive Moog synth
‘effectively used as a foghorn bass’ – the
delicate snare drum triggers electrifying
notions of firing synapses, daydreaming,
memories – and the whole woven texture
is reminiscent of home, family, things past
and the excitement of those to come . . .
12-string and 6-string guitars dues and
converse with the stuttering, yearning voice
– a hypnotic transmission.
Rolling Stone critic Stephen Holden
captures perfectly: “. . . the body of the
song is an incantatory montage of simple
portentous phrases repeated over and
over with varying emotional emphasis . . .
the structure of the song is metamorphic,
taking the form of a rising and subsiding
With reference to . . .
Growing up on the Kent coast with the
vast flat greeny/grey north sea horizons,
choppy waves & rolling white horses, this
particular sea has always had an important
influence on me. Home, happy, safe; but with
the awesome frightening power that the
sea brings; exciting ideas of ambition and
optimism, the scale of adventure, journeys,
future endeavours. Seasonal colour palette
– gentle tidal pulses and the angry crashing
of stormy swellings.
Idea / concept / intention
The simple conceit of this work was to
explore/express a visually elegant way to
capture the sensory emotion of the track.
The idea ‘nods’ to the musical heritage of the
east coast of Britain and encapsulates – in
at least a representational and abstract
form – the themes of the music, the
landscape & the exhibition.
Technical & structural approach
Using a simple typographic structure, the
grid acts as a kind of stave and – although
not wholly accurate – endeavours to capture
the rhythm of the original composition. The
horizontal axis forms a time line and plots
the progression and interaction of each
instrument. Each of these are represented
by a different expressive typographic shape
or ornament and describe the repetitive
nature of the sound. Set individually by hand,
these ornaments become a typographic
translation and form a swell; a mood, a
longing and a simple rhythmic composition
that – despite being conceived on the west
coast of America – is indicative of my east
Almost Independence Day:
‘A study in Ornamental Composition’
30 x 11 inches (760 x 280mm)
Designed & set in Lead type
& printed Letterpress in various colours /
on 280 gsm bfk Rives Grey
£600 unframed / £750 framed