The Colour of Voices

In 2003 I began linking the sounds in my life to colour. For my diploma at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France I concentrated on the voice as it was central to my life; my father was an announcer on the radio throughout my childhood; my partner and the father of my children a singer. Living abroad in France at the time, meant my contact with many loved ones in Ireland was via the voice, on the phone. I presented the voices visually as colours and textures using oil pastels on paper. This is of course an abstract work. Could I create an abstract audio voice? I layered recordings of each voice so that the narrative was disrupted. Instead of hearing what the person is saying and being distracted by making sense of the narrative, the listener hears the voice but the meaning is taken away. The recordings were played in the exhibition space with each piece.

Recently I returned to this work as I began working on portraits. I was interested in creating an abstract portrait of a person; removing the narrative to find an essence of the person. I used the voice of my father. This time for the visual part I layered actual words, written in my handwriting again linking the voice to its colour and texture. For the audio aspect I layered the RTE archive of my father speaking on the radio with his voice today, again used in a public capacity as he reads in Mass. In this way there is the aspect of time encompassed, his voice then and now.

2020 Audio Portrait with Colour: My Father, watercolour ink on paper
Audio Portrait of My Father
2020, MP3 53″
The Colour of My Father’s Voice, Oil pastel 2003
Jacques’s Voice, Oil pastel 2003