also a drummer, producer, lyricist, writer, poet & more
Shane is a good friend of mine. I've known him for over a decade.
I first encountered him as an audience member watching a band called Earnest Cox. He was the drummer. "What a fine drummer" I thought to myself. I booked a few drum lessons with him and learned a few bits and bobs about playing drum kit. Eventually Shane left Earnest Cox and I was quick to ask him if he fancied playing drums with me and my singer songwriter friend Dan Pierce.
After a while we became business partners with a commercial recording studio venture and we got to know each other better whilst building sound isolated rooms together over the course of about 9 months. The studio was called Loficity and existed as a business for about 3 years.
Shane, Dan and I recorded an album called Nocturnal City Journal (with another friend Andrew Farrington) calling ourselves Big Blue Sun at Loficity. Although made 10 years prior to SPACES, Nocturnal City Journal is also an album inspired by Gloucester containing 10 songs about a life imagined, real or otherwise as a resident of the city in the past, present and future. You can listen to it here.
When we closed Loficity, Shane trained as a photographer. He has won many awards for his photographs. He is meticulous when it comes to light and just like with his music, he is discerning and tasteful with his photographic choices. He is also an excellent teacher and my wife has benefited from training with him. Check out his website here.
Shane has been an invaluable collaborator on SPACES. He is the first person I ask an opinion of and the first person I look for at a session. Originally I asked him to take photos for me, to document the project using his camera. As you can see in this gallery and throughout the website Shane has delivered some magnificent images.
After the first session we talked about the project in more depth and it was obvious to me that I would ask him to collaborate as a songwriter. He has co-written 3 of the songs creating melodies and crafting lyrics and verses in response to the musical sketches I've made. We will definitely be writing more music together in future so watch out for that.
Shane also plays drums on "Love Will Remain". We started the writing process on that one by Shane suggesting I listen to a Blockheads track and I began to put together chords on top of a drum beat inspired by that track until it evolved into our song.
Photo by Chris Watkins
Eloise Hopkins is the project artist. She has had an open brief to explore the locations, the themes and respond to the music. For each session she created different images from which we chose a "tile" for each location and used them to make the CD artwork.
Eloise Hopkins - project artist
Eloise responded to an open brief to explore the locations, themes and respond to the music at each session. She was also an essential sounding board when writing lyrics for the songs because she writes poetry too.
My favourite aspect of Eloise's art and poetry is the importance she places on meaning and purpose. Each image or idea that Eloise presents has been considered deeply and it's very evident that nothing has been taken forgranted. There is a subtle crafting going on behind her decision making. Her art is often accompanied by a written explanation of the reasons for her choices and I really enjoy reading what she writes. Symbolism is significant in her imagery and there are no throw away notions in her mark-making. Everything she includes in her designs carries a good weight of understanding behind it.
Eloise has been an invaluable and unique collaborator across the whole project. Whether contributing poetry, challenging me to think deeper about meta narratives in our activities or initiating symbiosis between musical and visual art processes, I've greatly appreciated her input, encouragement, sensitivity, originality and skill throughout.
I'm so glad I asked Eloise to be involved. A notable achievement has been how her "Lady of Mercia" portrait of Aethelflaed has been received by the city. The original is hanging in the exhibition in the City Museum until September, the 5m tall reproduction is hanging on the Cathedral works scaffolding and Eloise is making the image available to those who appreciate it via a range of prints on woodblocks, textiles and greetings cards. You can find these in the Cathedral and City Museum gift shops or online. Check out her online store here.