Play Me, Mend Me is an exploration through music of pain and repair, made using Anita Johnson’s sculpture Play Me, Mend Me. You can follow the progress here, through my monthly zine series Paper Trails, on my Instagram page, or join my mailing list to hear about releases and performances.
This project was funded by a Wollongong City Council Grant.
Play Me, Mend Me is an exploration through music of pain and repair, made using Anita Johnson’s sculpture Play Me, Mend Me (which I affectionately call The Instrument). The Instrument is an assemblage of an unfinished violin, salvaged crutch, tobacco tin, and blanket. It has strings that span its 1.6m length, creating three unique sounding sections.
The sculpture calls on the overall themes of brokenness, healing, and gesture from the broader exhibition it was part of – themes I am drawing on to connect with my own background of chronic pain from playing the violin. Working with this instrument has allowed me to explore new ways of making music that still build on my strengths and experience of playing the violin.
My practice as a violinist and a composer whose practice is rooted in improvising has been complicated over the past few year by chronic pain in my neck and shoulders. I have been working towards recovery both through physical therapy, but also through finding new ways to create music and perform that move beyond traditional ways of playing. This project represents this perfectly – an instrument that uses my experiences and instincts as a violinist but also demands new approaches that don’t fall into old patterns.
Ideas about gesture and repair not only inform my approach to making sound with The Instrument, but also the emotional journey of managing chronic pain, recovery, and the very particular, joyful, cathartic relationship that a musician has with their instruments that is complicated by pain and repair.
This is a deeply personal project that I'm very excited to share with you. It will ultimately take the form of an album and an accompanying zine, as well as a live performance version to be released and performed in 2023. You can follow the progress here, through my monthly zine series Paper Trails, on my Instagram page, or join my mailing list to hear about releases and performances.