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David Sylvian recollects encountering George Bolster's work for the first time

By solstice, Monday, 8th April 2019 | 0 comments

David Sylvian recollects encountering George Bolster's work for the first time 

MUSIC +MAKER, currently running at Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, seeks to travel a particular path of selected contemporary collaborations that have seen artists and musicians/composers come together in diverse ways. It speaks both of collaboration and relationships that are sometimes ephemeral, sometimes augmented over years, but ultimately are created with a sincere poetic grace and mutual understanding.

Included in the exhibition are George Bolster’s drawings for David Sylvian’s album Died in the Woolan extraordinary album of reimagined collaborations from Sylvian’s earlier Manafon (2009). 

Solstice would like to thank David Sylvian for his beautiful recollection of encountering George Bolster's work, and of their impressive collaboration that followed.

I first came across George’s work at Mass MoCa located in North Adams, Massachusetts. He had installed a small but potent installation in what is, in total, a rather large exhibition space. His work made an impression such that, at this point in time, I can no longer remember who else was on show in the more generous surrounding rooms. There was something of the dimly lit, slightly dilapidated, church alcove, anteroom, and/or confessional, about the space George had created. There was audio, multiple textural elements such as mirrors, dripping water, red ribbons of blood. The walls contained, what was for me, the true focal point of the work which were these beautifully detailed drawings, pen on maple, of iconic figures from the Bible, from Christian heritage, but there was frequently a twist to these pieces that didn’t feel at all inappropriate such as tattooed hands or bejeweled bodies (bling would be the more appropriate term). Liberties had been taken perhaps but a tone of reverence resonated throughout the exhibit itself. Christ was made manifest in the form of a sculpture of a white narwhal (white apparently denotes the age of the older narwhal) hanging stage center of the mirrored space. There was levity and gravity at work. Belief and disillusionment. As it said in the accompanying literature ‘Bolster’s work laments the loss of belief while demonstrating a fascination with faith in a time when both of these things seem to be tenuous.’ This subject matter was dear to my heart and echoed throughout my recent work of the time so when it came to selecting a collaborator with whom I should work for the cover of my next release, ‘Died in the wool’, George was the obvious choice. It was a request I’m grateful he responded to with enthusiasm and generosity. The resulting work again played with humour and gravity, taking its cue from George’s portrait of St Peter he’d based the drawing on an image of myself wearing cathedral shaped headphones. (These headphones can also be found in sculptural form). He also produced a stunning image of the Lamb of God based on the famous painting, found in the Prado, Madrid, by Francisco de Zurbarán entitled ‘after Zurbaran’. A contemporary artist struggling with issues of belief and it’s opposite (among others) isn’t as easy to come by as one might imagine. As a result, George’s work remains for me a source of contemplation, joy, beauty, and intrigue.

David Sylvian, March 2019

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