week 23: Laurie LeBreton

The Art

“GETTING TO QUIET” by Laurie LeBreton
abaca, mixed media, 35 pieces, individual pieces 4″ – 8″ tall, 2011


"Getting-to-Quiet"  by Laurie LeBreton, abaca, mixed media, 35 pieces

“Getting-to-Quiet” by Laurie LeBreton, abaca, mixed media, 35 pieces

The Music

“Music for Libraries – Hail Brian Eno” (6:38 mins) © Helen Davey
(for 5 voices, e-bow, piano:strings & keys)

Artists’s Notes

Laurie LeBreton

The unattainable, the elusive, the indefinable: my art explores all these concepts.  Using my primary medium, handmade paper, I make paper sculptures constructed on forms and on armatures. With these sculptures I examine ideas of impermanence, the role of chance, the interplay of joy and sorrow and the futility of control.

Getting to Quiet (detail) by Laurie LeBreton

Getting to Quiet (detail) by Laurie LeBreton

As I created “Getting to Quiet” I thought back to when I was teaching.  I always knew children were learning when there was a quiet murmur in the room, when they were talking to each other occasionally, softly, in a calm way.

This sculpture is about that kind of calm.  It is not a silent calm, but rather a hushed and engaged one.  It’s the kind of calm that we find in the best libraries.

“Please don’t touch, But feel free to blow gently”.


My Music

My eyes tend to hear soundscapes. When I saw  and read about Laurie’s “Getting to Quiet” I was inspired to create music exploring the concepts and ideas Laurie has identified in her notes; music seems the perfect realm for these things methinks. I also related to her description of happy schoolrooms, when children are in the flow of learning with that calm buzz of synapses doing their thing.

Because of Laurie’s reference, initially I’d thought to work blowing across many water filled bottles (of different tones). However my out-of-practice embouchure and the unreliability of various bottle necks put that idea back on the shelf, so I turned elsewhere.

"Circle of fifths with colour coded pitch classes" by Just Plain Bill. (CC-license)

“Circle of fifths with colour coded pitch classes” by Just Plain Bill. (CC-license)

I was pondering circles and came accross an animated image of the circle of fifths, which when captured as a still image, resembled some of Laurie’s shapes;

On a whim, I delved a little more and began to experiment with combining curved and circular motifs. I drew on the circle of 5ths as a musical cycle that ultimately brings my Anglo ears to a sense of quiet.

Coincidentally (?) a friend showed me Frank Haunschield’s diatonic circle of fourths in his “Die Neu Harmonielehre – vol 2” and I was sold.  Check out below, how it looks on paper! How much fun to use Hanschield’s diagram of circles within the big circle to guide my hands!


Diatonic circle of fourths from Frank Haunschield's "Die Neu Harmonielehre - vol 2" (1992:15).

Diatonic circle of fourths from Frank Haunshield’s “Die Neu Harmonielehre – vol 2” (1992:15).

Laurie had mentioned to me, that when the suspended pieces of “Getting to Quiet” hit each other they make a little clicking sound. I wanted to magnify that click from the perspective of the individual paper fibres in the sculptures, so we could sense the reverberating as bass notes. These you can hear as punctuations to the 12 tonalities around the diatonic circle.

You’ll hear the voices circling with the cycle, curving away from then resolving again, from one key to another;  All of these elements are bound together by a very slow pulse of 35 b.p.m., each  representing one of Laurie’s 35 sculptures.

As is often the case when I’m researching, I’m acutely aware of the bounty of shared knowledge and discoveries from people who have travelled this pathway before me. For my “Music for Libraries”, I want to acknowledge the work of J.S.Bach, Frank Haunshield, Meredith Monk and of course Brian Eno as major influences in my response to Laurie’s “Getting to Quiet. I also want to acknowledge YOUR part in viewing the art here and thank your continued support of my project.

Please feel free to share this around to anyone interested in art, music and cross-arts collaborations via the little icons below and I welcome your comments.

Wiggalee woop

10 comments to week 23: Laurie LeBreton

  • Would never have seen what Laurie LeBreton was saying in this piece without her (and your) input here. Having taught some myself, I know exactly that magical moment of engaged, focussed, thoughtful interaction. Such an interesting way of expressing it. Love all the paths you go down on these explorations, Helen.

    Two things: thanks for all the links here to the previous weeks’ work. Easy to use, and I do go revisit sometimes. Also, your little fish app is perfect for this particular piece as the fish circle around and make ripples, a la Frank Haunshield and his Harmonielehre… .

  • Helen

    Bronle, thanks alot for your feedback. Actually I was so intrigued with Laurie’s piece, I was curious to learn more. I had a fight with myself as to which piece to sound-paint to…. am still fighting with that part of myself – because I STILL want to sound-paint to Laurie’s “healing machines II – you can see it here: http://laurielebreton.net/healing
    But I couldn’t do both…. maybe after project 52.

    You are so right about the fish! I hadn’t thought about it til now. Thanks for pointing it out. Maybe I’ll email Frank to let him in on the discovery!

  • Laurie

    Oh, thanks so much, Helen. Lovely.

  • Kristin

    Helen your music very clearly conjured up the atmosphere of the quiet murmur of learning. I’m being lulled into a relaxing but thoughtful space. Thanks so much for the experiential journey.

  • very engaging and soothing….

    • Hi Janice, I find that chordal progression incredibly sooting too… it’s SO fun to play it: looks like a recurring pattern visually and just keeps working aurally. The magic of equal temprement.

  • Helen,
    The music totally fits with Laurie’s work. I love it! Very peaceful. Reminds me of whales singing to one another in the deep blue sea. I could see this sound emanating from Laurie’s objects.
    Best wishes,

    • Hi Michael, I wanted to give a sense of gentle movement – it’s how I imagine the artwork to be in a lofty room. The mention of whales and the ocean gives it another dimension all together; what a compliment – thanks lots!

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