If you currently check out a strand of one of Berlin Phil’s media campaigns, you will see some fantastic photos taken of inside of some of their instruments. Well, funnily enough, I recently did the same. Not with my own violin, but a battered old thing I sacrificed for a project.
As an aside – anyone who has visited a luthier’s knows that it is often necessary to take a journey inside the instrument with a tiny camera, to work out what’s going on. Some instruments are ‘virgins’ – I’ll leave you to work that one out – and so you can take a peek without causing any undue meddling. As this violin had been played underwater, the wood naturally began to open up from the lower bouts, which allowed the camera do the talking.
I have been working as part of a multi-arts project Mapio Madoc Creadigol, or Mapping Madoc Creatively, with a team of collaborative artists (Karen Heald film, Angela Davies visuals, Ant Dickinson sound). We decided to create an artistic underwater film at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre , and myself and Ant took time to record ambient pool sounds, underwater recording and vox pops from customers. It was again a new experience for me to play instruments underwater! Violin, swanee whistle, harmonica, saw, kalimba….more of this later.
As for the violin – I bought him from a friend in London for about £15. It is an orange factory box, nothing more. So I was quite amazed that for his final swansong, he took on a most extraordinary and beautiful aspect. I played the violin in the water, and let him float away like a coffin at sea, the water rushing in and out and making him gurgle. I thought “well, that’s that”.
So the surprise was all mine when I brought him home, patted him dry, and left him out to settle. The wood kept on opening until – he seemed to have turned into an old wooden ship.
Suddenly I’m unsure whether I was on the inside or the outside…?