Disrupted Icons

About the exhibition

Disrupted Icons (The Maternal Gaze) is the result of a collaboration between visual artist Lucy Cade and sound artist Eleanor Turner. Their work questions and celebrates modern motherhood, stressing the necessity for reinvention alongside traditional or religious expectations of ‘Mother and Child’. Lucy and Eleanor have archived the show here, but it continues to evolve. The starting point for the project in 2022was the opening ‘Chapel Scene’ of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film ‘Nostalgia’. See below to watch the clip of the film, complete with a sample of Eleanor's soundscape.

The project deep-dives into religious iconography, combined with references to the artists’ lives: in particular, Cade’s work is filtered through the trauma of her own experiences of post-natal psychosis. Turner’s soundscape samples birdsong (referencing the Tarkovsky scene and the associated symbology of birds) and her harp playing in a sonic exploration of what it means to be a mother today: heart rate monitors play alongside the creative sounds of Cade’s studio. A feast for the eyes and ears, the show will appeal to all ages and genders.

A show by Lucy Cade @lucycadeartist, curated by Jósephine-May Bailey @procrastinarting_ with a musical soundscape by @eleanorstrings

The Crypt Gallery, St. Pancras Church, 165 Euston Road, London NW1 2BA United Kingdom

4-6 November Open 12-6pm Private View with live performance by Eleanor Turner, email or DM the artists to put your name on the list for this free event, FRIDAY 4th Nov 6-9pm (regrettably due to strike action on the 3rd Nov we had to move it) or just show up! All welcome. Please note, there are around 6stairs leading down into the Crypt.

Disrupted Icons (The Maternal Gaze)

Here are the details of the exhibition, curated by Josephine-May Bailey:


Art by Lucy Cade, Sound by Eleanor Turner

In creating the soundscape for Lucy's exhibition, I initially made a patchwork of sounds lasting around 1.5 hours. As it was a collaboration and I wanted Lucy to have something other than silence to paint to, I felt it was important to provide her with some sounds from as early on as possible. I instinctively grabbed sounds that were close to me and sounds I had gathered over recent years; audio captured on my phone mostly. Lucy and I had discussed what my soundscape might resemble and I wanted to mirror how she was creating the art, so I needed a canvas ("What would a linen canvas sound like, in music?") and I needed tools, textures and to replicate the discipline and ritual of Lucy's work, which included repurposing old canvases, frames and even old toys.

This repurposing gave me license to reuse old material, which I could then get creative with in my sound editing programme Studio One. It was really joyous to take musical material that I already had and chop it up, selecting moments that had the most relevance and meaning, and play around with them in the context of a larger work. I have divided the 55 minute soundscape into one long, more dramatic loop, and one softer, shorter loop, creating two slightly different atmospheres within the exhibition.

Here is an interview with questions posed to Eleanor by our curator, Josephine-May Bailey

1. First of all, can you introduce your practice

I am a harpist, composer, arranger and producer. I perform solo and with a few groups, usually in the UK but sometimes abroad at festivals and conferences, such as for the 2017 International Computer Music Conference in Shanghai, or adjudicating and performing at the 2020 Ceren Nepicolgu Harp Festival in Istanbul, just two months before we were locked down because of the virus that had already gripped the world. During the strange two years we have just had, I was able to expand my recording work and improve on my 'sound painting' skills using more technology than I previously had incorporated into my practice. I'm loving this new way of working, especially as I can do it with headphones on in the middle of the night when the baby is asleep!

2. This is a project that has developed over the past 6 months, what drew you to working so closely with Lucy as an artist?

I have always admired Lucy Cade's art, since seeing her impressive, emotive and colourful works framed at her parents' family home which is only ten minutes from mine. I am good friends with Lucy's musician sister, Alice, so I had been lucky enough to see her art as it has evolved over the years. I was really drawn to Lucy's more recent explorations, which admittedly I saw first over social media, and was really honoured that she contacted me about potentially working together on a subject area that was playing out in both our lives. Realising the project together has felt like a true collaboration and the exchange of ideas has kept the flow and feeling of support throughout. The idea of Lucy painting and creating art work to the rough soundscape I first provided her with just fuelled my enthusiasm and commitment to the project and I offered to perform live for the private view because I want to show my passion for creating alongside motherhood. 

3.  How important is the process of creating soundscapes that directly respond to and correlate to visual work? Is this something you have explored before in your career?

I have worked with dancers a lot - I composed for Ballet Wales in 2007 and created a show with hip hop dancer Lizzie Gough, and guitarist composer Alan Thomas, in 2012. These experiences showed me that sound is essential and inspiring for the other creative art forms, whether the music directly relates to it or not. For example, I have watched (five times so far) a documentary about sculptor Barbara Hepworth which was made by the BBC decades ago, when Hepworth was still alive. She speaks in depth about her creative process, describing the 'motor' and the 'feeling hand', whilst Bach plays in the background of the documentary on a solo guitar. The shapes in the music and the simple texture of the sound, plus the insinuation of the discipline required to produce such a flawless flow of beauty, just works so well as a backdrop to the whole documentary. Regarding Disrupted Icons, it was important to me to include some symbology, but it was more important to have textures and flow that correlated to Lucy's creative process.

4. The exhibition has a starting point of a specific scene in a film by Tarkovsky, how have you found this as a basis to your own soundscape, has it been helpful or somewhat overwhelming to work with this as inspiration?

I return to that Tarkovsky clip often - it is very weird and I don't particularly like it! I enjoy the way it bothers me and annoys me. I certainly found, and continue to find, it thought provoking rather than overwhelming. The atmosphere in that Italian chapel is referenced in Lucy's choice of The Crypt Gallery and it is a fertile atmosphere for dark, invasive thoughts. When a person becomes a mother, their body and brain changes and with the deep responsibility of child raising (as the Sacristan in the film says, requiring patience and self-sacrifice) you enter a new life of development, where you change and grow alongside offspring, seeing the world in fresh ways whilst battling innumerate obstacles, physical and mental. Time, for example, is no longer yours. To me, the clip doesn't elevate women - it's such a moody piece of work it leaves me feeling cold, but also I have to reflect that I am comfortable with my life and above all, fortunate to be a mother. I didn't want the soundscape to be so depressing so I asked Clare O'Connell to record some beautiful lullaby melodies from around the world.

5.  “Reinvention” is a key theme running throughout this brilliant collaboration, what does this mean to you in the context of “modern motherhood”?

I don't believe in reinvention - or even invention - because it suggests choosing and creating to a design. In the context of both motherhood and creative life, things just happen to me and I respond to them as best I can. As I write, my daughter is tugging both of my breasts out of my top...it's not what I would choose...or is it? It's a privilege, as is being an artist!

Joséphine-May Bailey - Curator, Arts Writer and Art Historian

josephinemaybailey.com @procrastinarting_

© Copyright Eleanor Turner