Read, Watch and Listen

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The Musicians' Journal, No. 26 (October 1927)

In 1927 the Musicians’ Union was active on several fronts to support members’ interests. It resisted reductions in pay following the General Strike and fought against harsh conditions of service when, for example, some cinema owners insisted their orchestras play seven days a week. However, to achieve its aims, the Union needed sufficient income to employ officials and organise members; but those very members resisted moves to raise the subscription.

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The Musicians’ Journal, No. 30 (October 1928)

In cinemas, the Panatrope was a two-turntable gramophone with amplified output which allowed operators to play a pre-recorded soundtrack for silent films. Like the more satisfactory systems that reproduced sound recorded on film (represented here by the American salesman, frame right), it threatened the livelihoods of musicians who accompanied films in cinemas. A related article attacked the technology being introduced in Britain and claimed that "the public cannot live on 'canned' music all the time any more than on canned pork."

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The Musicians Journal, New Series 1 (April 1929)

This front-cover image entitled, “The Key To The Situation” directed musicians to an article advising them to join the Musical Performers Protection Association. However, the company was to fail in its objectives of collecting fees from recorded music. Nor did it reverse the takeover by sound films. Although too few talkies were produced in 1929-30 to fill cinemas’ programmes completely, the studios persuaded owners to meet the cost of conversion by focusing on the prospect of increased takings and cutting out musicians’ wages.

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 2 (July 1929)

“Keep Blowing Boys.” This cover image introduced an article designed to raise players’ morale. The piece argued that the failings of talkies were so obtrusive that the fad could not last. For example, it alleged, someone other than the actor has to do the talking. For that reason the actor works with his or her back to camera to conceal the fact that the voice and the movement of the performer’s lips do not synchronise.

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 3 (October 1929)

Reflecting the accelerating pace of converting cinemas for sound, this cartoon’s prediction for 1930 relied on a counterattack that instrumentalists thought incontrovertible. In October 1929, few filmgoers would have disagreed that the quality of mechanical sound reproduction was far inferior to live music. But the riposte sidestepped two key facts: sound systems were improving fast and, more significantly, that autumn British audiences, no matter the music’s quality, were flocking to the latest sensation, the talkies.

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Musicians’ Union Monthly Report, New Series 3 (March 1930)

The vision of orchestras returning to cinemas arose when the Union recognised filmgoers’ continuing appetite (despite improvements in sound reproduction) for hearing live music as part of the programme. Kine-Variety revived Victorian music hall and vaudeville formulas, programming live orchestras and performers alongside talkie feature films. Unhappily, few Musicians’ Union writers recognised that in the Depression era this was exclusively a big-city phenomenon. Only in picture palaces were well-to-do audiences and holidaymakers paying the high prices for these top-class shows. 

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The Musicians Journal, New Series 10 (July 1931)

This cartoon includes the caption: “Trades Union Congress Resolution, 1923. This Congress emphatically condemns the practice of allowing Army, Navy and Air Force bands to enter into collective and individual competition with civilian musicians, on the ground that it is unfair and subsidised competition, and intensifies the unemployment problem. The Congress further calls on all Labour representatives in Parliament and on Local Authorities to exert all their power to put a stop to this injustice.” Eight years later, with 4,000 musicians unemployed, the Union claimed that the injustice continued.

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Landforms

Digital Photograph 2013 

©Rose Ferraby

The land is a rich mixture of the geological and cultural. The sculptural topography is ingrained with the lines and layers of human action. From this, we can begin to unravel some of the many narratives that play through landscape, both now and in the past. 

 

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Prehistoric Encounter

Screenprint 2008

©Rose Ferraby

Screenprinting has allowed me to explore the layered nature of archaeological landscapes on paper. Archaeology is about peeling layers back in order to make sense of them. Screenprinting is about placing them back, choosing how much tone and emphasis to give each feature. In this piece, I was interested in how aerial photographs of prehistoric landscapes are interpreted, abstracting the landscape and removing a sense of scale. 

 

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Field Forms

Screenprint 2009

©Rose Ferraby

The landscape is always in formation. As we go into the future, there is an awareness of what has gone before. In this way, we can trace human actions into the past. This screenprint of fields was built up slowly. Each field is a separate layer, echoing the gradual changes of the land as one feature is set in relation to those around it. 

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Remote Sensing

Wax crayon and watercolour 2009

©Rose Ferraby

There are many ways of seeing into the earth. Remote sensing is increasingly used in archaeology as a non-intrusive method of mapping large areas of landscape. This allows us to reveal the relationships of archaeological features over large scales and time periods. This drawing is based on a survey undertaken with the British School at Rome near Tivoli, Italy. The regimented lines of a Roman villa are surrounded by the smooth quiet of undisturbed land.

 

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Excavation

Digital Photograph 2010

©Rose Ferraby

Peeling off the turf and exploring the layers that lie beneath allows a unique view into the earth and our relationship with it. The process allows a close and tacit understanding. The archaeologist’s hand learns the feel of loams and grits, fills and cuts. These long remembered details and textures build a material memory of the archaeological.

 

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Green Stone Axe

Wax crayon and watercolour 2010

©Rose Ferraby

Archaeological contexts can reveal rich material that we must learn to understand. Drawing is a way of becoming acquainted with the forms and details. It is a way of thinking through the material and tracing it to memory. This is a study of a Neolithic axe, whose stone is sourced from a Neolithic quarry in the Langdales, Cumbria. The work formed part of a book ‘Stonework’ (Edmonds and Ferraby 2013) with Professor Mark Edmonds of York University.

 

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Purbeck Underground

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

My interest in stone has led me to explore deeper into the land. Quarries offer an extraordinary view into the earth: a rich ground for cultural geologies. This is one of the underground ‘quarrs’ where quarrymen extracted particular beds of limestone before modern machinery made large scale open cast quarries viable. The long exposure photography was a way of slowly absorbing this unique space.

 

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Portland Mine

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

Beneath the fields of Portland, Dorset, a new mine is hollowing the earth. Portland stone has been used for building for over a thousand years. It is found throughout the City of London and in some of our most famous buildings. Jordan’s Mine (Albion Stone Ltd) is itself an inverted architecture. Beneath the ground, its angular and regimented corridors are a photographer’s dream. 

 

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Cliff Quarry

Charcoal, graphite and conte crayon 2013

©Rose Ferraby

The cliff quarries of Purbeck are much better known than its secret undergrounds. Winspit was once an active quarry removing beds including Pond Freestone, Blue Bit and Spangle. Some of this stone was used to build Ramsgate harbour whilst other went into buildings in the City of London. The quarry is now the haunt of climbers and walkers. Graffiti etches the walls over the fading marks of picks. Drawing the space allowed me to absorb it, and to learn the beds of stone.

 

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Lettercutting

Digital Photograph 2013 (Stone plaque: Pondfree Stone) 

©Rose Ferraby

Working with stone allows a unique view beneath its surface. Lettercutting allows meaning to be carved into stone, but it is also a way of drawing understanding from it. The character of the material is quickly learned when working in this close and precise way. Here, Mark Haysom (W.J. Haysom and Sons, Purbeck) is working on a replacement plaque for the Beaminster Tunnel. The Pondfree Stone is particularly good for lettering

 

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Sculpture

Digital Photograph 2013 (Sculpture: Portland Best Bed)

©Rose Ferraby

I felt that I could not properly understand stone, or the processes described by those experienced with it, until I had worked with it myself. As well as learning lettercutting and masonry, I wanted to make a sculpture, combining the art of design and the precision of masonry. I created this piece with Gary Breeze, a stone lettering sculptor based in Norfolk. The ordered process of removal gave me new insight into ideas of negative space and sculptural forms.

 

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