Tell us a little bit about yourself—your background, major program of study, reasons for taking this trip, and anything else interesting you want to share (maybe something people might not know about you).
Hi everyone! My name is Victoria and I am the resident music student on this field school. I am about to enter into my fourth and final year of the music program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Creativity has always been a huge part of my life. From a young age I was dancing, writing stories and drawing pictures. As I got older my creativity expanded into music and I never looked back. My main instrument is clarinet but I play a variety of other instruments and have intent on learning more. Once I complete my Bachelor of Music I plan to pursue my Bachelor of Education and teach music in high schools.
I decided to come on this field school for a few reasons. This past year I was on top of the world and was ready to push myself further, not only in music but outside of music as well. I saw this field school as an opportunity to learn about other art forms and make connections between art and music. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and meet new people at the same time. University is the time to experience and try new things and this field school was the perfect opportunity to do all of that. A trip to London and Venice isn’t half bad either.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about London so far?
I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of music I have stumbled upon. Obviously when I knew I was going to be coming to London I began to research concerts to attend, and I have attended some. But, the amount of music I have happily stumbled upon is amazing. I have found a string quintet busking in Covent Garden, I have heard on organ in an old church and I have even heard chant being sung in a church service in a beautiful church. All of these things I just happened to stumble upon and they have all been amazing experiences that I will remember forever.
One of my fears when joining this field school was being the one person not a fine arts student. I was worried that everyone would already know each other and I would find it hard to make friends and talk to people. But I have found that even though a lot of people already know each other, I have meshed well into this group of people. It’s really interesting being around people who are creative but in a different way than I am. I have learned so much from my peers and I am in awe of their talent, kindness, and intellect. I have made some amazing friends and they have inspired me to go back into my own art form and create wonderful things, and maybe even attempting to create some visual art.
Give us some insight into your assigned artwork from the Tate Modern. After seeing the work in person in London (and any other related art from the same artist or art movement associated with the assigned work), what struck you most about it and/or how did the artwork’s form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it.
My assigned artwork at Tate Modern was Ubu Tells the Truth (1997) by William Kentridge. This piece is loosely based on a play by French playwright Alfred Jerry called Ubu Roi. The main protagonist of Kentridge’s piece is a film camera on a tripod that sees everything and then uses that knowledge to try and wipe out non-corroborating witnesses. Documentary footage of South African police charging unarmed protestors is inter cut with Kentridge’s own drawings of political suspects being shot, hanged and stabbed among other things. This film examines the idea that by being a witness to terrible events without acting to prevent them, is someone who is just as guilty as those participating in those crimes.
I went into this artwork completely cold. I did not watch it until I got to the Tate Modern. I wanted my experience watching it at the Tate to be completely unaltered. I am glad I waited because I felt much more engaged in the piece. Having no idea what to expect or what was going to happen made me focus more on the piece, I just wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Visually, this piece was very jarring to watch. The way it cut in between animations and live footage gave it this rough feel which was a bit uncomfortable to watch. You never felt truly comfortable watching the film. The visuals were also quite uncomfortable. There was close up footage of a real eye and Kentridge’s sketches were quite awkward to look at. What really struck me about this piece was his use of music and sound. The sound of a war generals voice over intense drumming, a woman singing alone, a children's choir. The juxtaposition of gunshots with children singing sent chills down my spine. In this respect, the piece reminded me a lot of Childish Gambino’s This is America music video.
Today's activity was a free day and the London bike tour. What were your impressions? What will you take away of the experiences of this day? What are the most memorable moments for you?
With all the art we have been seeing on this trip I felt as though I needed to balance the art with some music. For my final free day I decided to buy tickets to go see the English National Ballet's rendition of Cinderella. I was a dancer before I was a musician. I danced for 13 years and have always loved ballet. Ballet music is also some of my favourite music. I could not pass up the opportunity to see a world class ballet company and a world class orchestra perform in a city full of culture. And what was interesting about this particular ballet is that it was being performed on a round stage, something I have never seen before. I have never seen Cinderella or heard the music for it, so I spent the week leading up to the show listening to the music on repeat. When the day came to go see the show I was so excited to hear it live.
The ticket I purchased was the cheapest ticket I could find, (I'm on a budget). When I arrived at the theatre, I climbed up six flights of stairs to my nosebleed seats. When I handed the usher my ticket she informed me that I was getting a free upgrade. To row two. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very excitable person, so I was basically skipping with glee back down the stairs to my new seat. This new seat was INCREDIBLE. I was about two feet from the stage and I had an aisle seat. I could see every emotion on the dancers faces as they beautifully told this story. I could feel the dancers running by my in the aisles. I could SMELL their cologne. It was basically the greatest day of my life. I struck up a conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me, who also received a free upgrade. After asking me if I'm American, (I'm not) he asked what I was doing in London. I told him why I was here and all the things I have experienced and the concerts I have attended. It turns out he was also at the BBC Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. He was the kindest man and I enjoyed conversing with him.
After the ballet I raced back to the hostel to meet up with the rest of the group for the bike tour. I have not ridden a bike in probably five years. I'm not a well-balanced person on my own two feet so going on a bike was a little nerve racking. Even though I was nervous, I still had a lot of fun. It was interesting seeing London from a new point of view and exploring places I never would have found on my own. This final day in London was the best I could have asked for. I was on top of the world the entire day. This entire trip has been an absolute whirlwind but a much needed one. After spending some time feeling uninspired and lost, this trip has rejuvenated my drive and my creative spirit.