Beatwoven: Nadia-Anne Ricketts

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As a part of The Southbank’s summer festival The Festival of Love and the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s (LPO) year long festival, Rachmaninoff: Inside Out, Nadia-Anne Ricketts was commissioned to create a textile art piece for the Royal Festival Hall interpreting Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. This was used within David Lean’s award winning 1945 love film Brief Encounter, which was screened at the Hall in August, and was accompanied by a newly commissioned orchestral soundtrack played by the LPO itself.

She has also designed  a small capsule collection  of woven textiles with three design variations, which show how one song can be translated into a handful of designs, either literally or abstract. These are currently available to purchase at The Southbank Centre.

At her London design studio, BeatWoven, Ricketts has designed a bespoke audio software program that translates any played music into visual patterns, especially for weaving. “Similar to that of a very granulated, broken down sound wave, it inspects and discovers the patterns happening within the sound wave.”

For the commissioned piece, she started by playing the Rachmaninoff concerto over and over through the software to analyse and become familiar with the patterns. Though the basic colour palette was determined by the interior design of the Royal Festival Hall, where it will be installed, Ricketts also uses her previous performing experience to connect with the music, juxtaposed with extensive research for each song, including the artist, genre, era and story behind its composition, to ultimately choose colour combinations and yarns. “When designing my musical textile pieces I feel that I am expressing my passion for music in a visual way, rather than as a dance performance. The designing and making process becomes my visual music performance”.

Rach CushRicketts explains “For the Rachmaninoff piece, it was a challenge as I was designing with in the parameters of the colours of the interior space, as well as the film ‘Brief Encounter’ and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, I felt I needed to encapsulate it all and was challenged by the contrast of the austerity of the film, and the huge amounts of emotion in the music. I therefore chose an orange-toned red; a poppy silk as the main patterned colour with a steel yarn and an antique copper to help represent the multitude of steam engine scenes in the movie. I mixed these with classic black and white wool due to its era of 1945, and granite grey silks. I took the pattern created by the audio, edited it and prepared it ready for weaving.”
From her experience, Ricketts explains that visually, classical music, electronic music and jazz music make noticeably different patterns. “There is more background space on classical music with the patterns ironically being more organic in appearance. House music, or electronic music, is more intense in terms of patterns, sometimes creating some fantastic shapes due to the synthesizers. The bass line and rhythm tend to be more obvious, constant and repetitive, therefore creating a full pattern with lots of shapes filling the void. Jazz music I have found to make the sweetest patterns due to the trumpets!”

Shop Rachmaninoff in scarf, cushion or art form by visiting Southbank Centre’s online shop, and view the rest of the festival’s schedule (running until April 2015) online. The Art piece can be seen for members on the 5th Floor, Royal Festival Hall from the beginning of November 2014.8.Rachmaninov copy

Text & images: Nadia – Anne Ricketts

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