Hawkwood Residency 5 – 9 December 2022



What was I working on?
I was working on developing piano pieces for an album: pure piano,  piano songs and piano pieces with vocal noodles. Many of these pieces will be recorded in the spring. I also listened through an album of unaccompanied songs – the recording is finished and it’s about mixing and mastering, order and title now. I also did some work on a Secret Shakespeare project, which was about developing the concept and ideas about locations and collaborators. It was great to talk with Alicia, the CEO of Hawkwood, about this project.

The influence of the residency on my work in the future?
More confidence around the piano recordings, and I am closer to the goal of having the pieces ready.
Turning my day around at home as I’ve loved turning off the internet from about 10 till 6.30 and doing admin tasks before or after that; so creating longer undisturbed creative patches is something I’m going to go for. Being able to do it for that long here was a great luxury.
Meeting and exchanging with the other artist in residence, Donna Fitzgerald charged me up with confidence about what I was doing as well as stimulating me to think about including my cartoons in some way into my professional life.
Daring more to approach artists I admire to work with me on recordings and performances. I made some moves towards that this week and the first response is positive.
Looking at how I could organise food at home so that I spend less time cooking, shopping, clearing up.
Having place holders for projects in my work room at home: so here I have had the luxury of a large space where each project could have its own location in the room, and later each part of the piano project had its music laid out in certain areas. I find that spacial awareness of where I am at with projects very helpful, especially as I am usually finishing some at the same time as starting or developing others.
I notice that it really has an impact to be welcomed as an artist, to be truly trusted to get on with it, alone, undisturbed, yet fed, welcomed and with great friendliness. Mostly at home I am working alone in what free time I can carve out but it doesn’t have that feeling of being valued that I felt very strongly here, yes, a feeling of being valued. That is a very powerful experience to have in terms of how we can grow and dare as artists.

The detail of it….

Day 1 – Worked on some songs for the piano and voice album I will record in the Spring. Lyrics by Rumi and Rilke and a solo piano piece.

Day 2
– Worked on a Secret Shakespeare project I’m creating
_Listened to the upcoming vocal album masters, thinking about the order, the title, permissions, sound, mastering.
I find it easier working on new projects than on completing existing ones but it was a good day anyway
-Work on a piano song and looking at some lyrics for a new song and played through a song with lyrics by HD, what a poet she was!

I’m sharing the Lodge accommodation with artist and writer Donna Fitzgerald and it is fascinating to share experiences, thoughts, methods and interests across genres as we eat the delicious meals that sustain us. Not having any domestic duties here and being nourished by food and environment, time and space, means that there really is time to concentrate.  I have a beautiful studio with a piano, a desk and several chairs, each with different projects laid out on them, one on each. It is an experience that is impossible to create at home. So grateful. I’m interested in taking a new way of organising my days home, creating through the day and doing admin at night, it’s a solitary existence so perhaps not for every day but works well for me in terms of keeping my focus. I walked in the stunning beech woods and O, did I mention the cake?

Day 3
– Working on songs and piano songs without words for the Piano Album which will have a title with the word Liminal in it; including a Frances Bellerby poem, one by Rumi, another by Ramzy Baroud, and one by Shakespeare. A mix of editing, transposing and scoring from hand written manuscript paper versions. Singing through some of the songs, something I need to do a lot as there has been less singing during Covid isolations. Trying out some titles for the new group album I was listening to yesterday. A piano and voice piece called Old Portrait in the Rock (after a Neruda poem). Getting more ballast thanks to the delicious cake and puddings.

Day 4
– Got up early with the full moon on my bed and walked as it set
– Arranging, adding to, going through various piano songs without words
– Creating lyrics from various writings. Went through all my writing books.
– Some lovely news today, that a wonderful singer I asked to record my music sometime has said Yes.
– I was kindly included in the Xmas Hawkwood staff meal which was a lot of fun and delicious.
– Later Donn and I slipped away and shared more about our processes. She asked me to play some of my piano pieces (some have  vocal noodles rather then being songs) and her response was so helpful as often mid a nw creation there are those days where I doubt what I am doing, so this sharing of practices was very affirming. She is a wonderful artist and writer and it was fabulous to be shown some of her work which isa combination of art forms in an original way.

Day 5
I created some B sections or “bridges” for some of the piano pieces. One of them is a song I wrote for Ali Hodge, a writer and theatre maker. I still don’t have the lyrics for that song but there will be some. I also realised that I don’t need to ad different pieces together make longer pieces, although I did that once today. Each piece can have its own integrity, short or long.






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