Joseph Bisat MarshallOrchestra of Letters2017

This installation piece entitled Now the Great Bear and Pleiades, was co-designed with Leslie Travers for Orchestra of Letters, an exhibition at Lettering Arts Centre.

Exhibition catalogue text:

‘Who can decipher in storm or starlight’ is a line taken from ‘Now the Great Bear and Pleiades’, an aria in Benjamin Britten’s opera, Peter Grimes, which was performed on Aldeburgh beach in 2013. The aria enacts the tragic, internal dialogue of the character Peter Grimes, revealing him as an afflicted soul within a hardened exterior who has an irrevocable destiny. The musical poetry of the aria is testament to the ability of music to surpass language in the communication of experience.

In this piece, the line provides a description of an artistic practice, portraying a creative life as a kind of madness set somewhere within the bounds of order and chaos. Viewers are invited to imagine an artist — in the broadest sense of the word — situated at a desk, consumed by their work. Within this space, held between a heavy steel frame, there is order and chaos, linearity and divergence, sense and madness. There is a ubiquitous attempt to move beyond words.

The freshly sawn oak used to create the piece will continue to warp and crack for a number of years. The continuous movement, unpredictable yet susceptible to its surroundings, is designed to be reminiscent of an artist at work. There is no way of knowing what will happen.

Now the Great Bear and Pleiades, 2017