Artworks Containing The ‘DNA’ Of The Old Newman Brothers Factory
Andy Garbi is a multi award-winning singer, composer and visual artist who specialises in ‘spirit of place’. During the few remaining days before renovation work commenced, he was invited by Birmingham Conservation Trust to record as much as he could of the disused Newman Brothers site. Out of this brief documenting period, Andy has created physical and digital audiovisual artworks that incorporate the preserved acoustics and light qualities of the building interior before it changed. Featuring incidental marks accrued over time within the building, they give a glimpse of areas of the old factory that a) the public no longer have access to and b) in essence, no longer exist. Shadows & Dust is both artwork and archive – highlighting heritage beyond bricks and mortar.
S H R O U D S (Quadtych Installation: Sound / Photography)
Shroud n. 1. A sheetlike garment for wrapping a corpse for burial. 2. anything that conceals like a shroud. v.tr. 1. clothe (a body) for burial 2. cover, conceal, or disguise (hills shrouded in mist).
The Oxford Concise Dictionary.
Incorporating extracts from recorded conversations about the function and symbolism of the shroud within different faiths, this audiovisual piece explores the potential for the extraordinary within the everyday. Using photographic images that the artist took inside the Coffin Works of the patina developed over decades on hundreds of panes of glass, the piece re-presents details within these found objects simultaneously across four video screens, utilizing the obscured views and translucent light qualities to generate an impressionistic landscape.
The notion of partial obscurity and veiled vision intimated by the glass relates to what lies on the periphery or just outside of one’s immediate environment, evoking what is sought in life and in death. For the workforce, it is the dreams and imaginings of a world beyond the factory – their view clouded by dirty or frosted glass. For the deceased they produced artefacts for, it is the question of what lies beyond the corporeal realm – the ‘view’ of which is veiled or obscured by the shroud.
The relationship between the screens is augmented by four individual compositions (one for each screen) that are designed to react with the captured acoustics of the Coffin Works interior. Renovation work will have changed what the various rooms ‘sound like’ forever. The installation however, features the original acoustics of four rooms: the Plating Shop, Polishing Shop, Coating Shop and the 60’s wing. The vocal piece for example has been composed and sung by the artist in such a way as to draw attention to the bare concrete interior of the Plating Shop. By way of contrast the string piece reacts with the sonic characteristics of the Polishing Shop which has wooden floors and ceilings.
The four rooms theme echoes throughout the installation – four panels, four voices, a string piece in four sections, etc.
About the Artist
Andy Garbi is a graduate of both music and fine art. He gained a double distinction, the Masters Prize and the Postgraduate prize from Birmingham Conservatoire in 2005. Shortlisted for the position of Director of Music with the British Council (2006), he has also been awarded the Channel 4 Ideas Factory Film Music award, The PRS for Music ATOM award and has gained letters of commendation from Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Netherlands Embassy for his international work. His 2008 debut solo album The Sound Of One achieved global critical acclaim and won him a scholarship to Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada in 2009. His work has been featured on BBC Radio3 Late Junction, Classic FM, Chill FM and RTE Lyric FM and he has recently appeared (August 2013) on BBC2 The Arts Show and Ireland’s premiere Arts programme Arena for his collaborative success on the Samuel Beckett inspired piece FULCRUM. His current work (including The Unsung Antiquarium sound heritage project) is supported by The British Library, Arts Council England and Roland Instruments. He is also an endorsed artist by the National Trust.