Sense of Place – Commentary

Photography by Mei Lim


The idea of a ‘sense of place’ is a powerful motive present in several of my compositions. Sometimes it is imaginary, as in Nocturns for flute and guitar, where the ‘place’ is an imagined location of performance, where the music sounds. Other pieces such as Flights take a location I know and love in North Wales, as a backdrop for the observed flight of model gliders. More recently Fifteen Images (Le Jardin Pluvieux) has focused very precisely on a garden after a night of rain, a garden rich in history and association with the Quaker way.


Sense of Place is music to the exhibition of the same name by tapestry artist Jilly Edwards. This exhibition is the result of the artist entering into a kind of contemplation of a powerful example of modernist architecture set in a rich landscape. Her modus operandi was not just with space and location but aspects of physical journeys to and from the location made in a spirit of active observation.

Photography by Mei Lim


My music for the exhibition is both an installation and a concert work. The subtitle Four Seasons is not directly reflected in the artist’s visible work, but more evident in the photographic commentary by Mei Lim projected on five domestic digital picture frames in tandem with the music. Lim’s photographs capture across the seasons the quality of light in and outside the house; in spring so very different from winter.  As I wrote Sense of Place my trigger for its musical events was my own experience of such a ‘sense of place’ throughout as it occurred variously  in the preceding four seasons. I recorded such places in poetry, sketch and digital photography. So what actually connects me  with Edwards tapestry is not the artist’s exhibited woven pieces but learning about, and working with, her powerful ‘diary into structure’ approach to making, and a close study and appreciation of her tapestry technique and creative history. This shows itself particularly in the use of grounding or ‘inside’ chords. These are like basic colour blocks or themes a tapestry artist works from, and then distorts through different rhythms of weave, different weights of yarn and so on.

High Cross House, by Mei Lim


The seasonal element is very much my own intervention and reflects my own journeys and places of contemplation, places that have written themselves into my own creative year from Spring 2009. As part of the composition process I wrote four poems to illustrate the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ qualities of these four ‘places. These poems and  accompanying photographic images provided the material for the textile artist Alice Fox to make a sequence of mixed-media pieces. These provide a visual resonance to the stand-alone publication and the presentation of each season, published separately in that knowledge that few guitarists may be able to contemplate performing the entire four-part work in a recital programme

Spring, by Alice Fox, 2010. 16 x 18cm. Paper; acrylic paint; cotton, viscose & wool threads. Print and stitch.



Spring [pdf]

Summer, by Alice Fox, 2010. 20 x 22cm. Linen, cotton, silk. Weave and stitch.



Summer [pdf]

Autumn, by Alice Fox, 2010. 18 x 19cm. Paper; acrylic paint; wool thread. Collage, print and stitch.



Autumn [pdf]

Winter, by Alice Fox, 2010. 7 x 12cm. Cotton warp; indigo dyed cotton; wool, silk, linen threads. Weave and stitch.



Winter [pdf]