New community artwork unveiled for the ‘W4th Plinth’

Image above: Giovanna Iorio, standing in front of her artwork; photograph Lucinda MacPherson; photograph Lucinda MacPherson

‘Sonic Serenity’ – Sound and Vision

Guest blog by Lucinda MacPherson

Art and science merged in a new public artwork by Giovanna Iorio, unveiled on Saturday 13 January near Turnham Green tube station.

Sonic Serenity: Chiswick Bridge and the Infinite is what the artist and poet describes as a ‘Voice Portrait” and has been made using a spectrogram to transform voices and sounds into a huge collage. This  creative process blends photography, sound, poetry and prose to make the invisible visible.

Giovanna, who originally hails from Rome, chose Chiswick Bridge as the principal subject of the piece as it is a local landmark and she often records sounds along the river, but her inspiration emanates from many cultures. What makes this work special, and different to the usual two dimensional pieces chosen for this speace, is the other dimension to the installation –  a soundscape called “One minute of Green”.

Image above: Visitors at the unveiling of the artwork on Saturday 13 January 2024

Visitors to the site, the railway embankment on Turnham Green Terrace, can hear this meditation on the word ‘green’ in multiple languages by scanning the barcode on the description to the left. Poets around the world repetitively chant various words for green with a variety of approaches – sometimes attacking the consonants, sometimes gently whispering, which in turn has been transformed into an alchemy of shapes and colours in the collage.

The artist’s  interpretation of a specially modified spectrogram’s response to poetry and prose has resulted in green, blue and black shapes evoking flora emerging from the river, upside down daisies, starbursts and dripping paint which have been overlayed with a photographic image of the bridge.

The Infinite is a reference to “L’infinito”, a 19th century poem written by Giacomo Leopardi read by a poet in the original Italian, and transmuted into one of the visual layers.

Image above: Artist Giovanna Iorio

“What I want to communicate is that I am symbolically merging this part of Chiswick into The Infinite and I am also merging my culture with Chiswick.” explains Giovanna.

This is the fifth year that an artwork has been displayed on Transport for London’s brick wall by Turnham Green tube station, turning an urban landscape into a hub for community life, art, and planting. The changing series of artworks have been shortlisted, from hundreds of submissions, by the curators of this project, Abundance London, and voted on by the public.

The ceremony for the official unveiling was all the more convivial thanks to a choir from Chiswick School, Abundance making bird and bat boxes with families and ace caterer Harriet Benton and her jovial team serving warm cider and sandwiches. 11am felt a bit early to be drinking cider, but I have it on very good authority (Knock it Back Bridget, no less), that it tasted much better than mulled wine.

Image above: Harriet Benton (second from right) and helpers; photograph Lucinda MacPherson

Recipe for mulled cider

Harriet has kindly shared the recipe. she says:

“As I’m sure you know this sort of drink is always a little guess work, especially in large quantities. This is what we did, the following is the closest I can get to the recipe we used”:

Into one large 40 x litre stock pot place four x litres of Apple juice (we used Cawstons), 800 x mls of calvados, six x finely sliced large naval oranges, 20 x cinnamon sticks & a little cassia, 10 x star anise, 30 x cloves (may be a little more), 400 x gms dark brown sugar, and six x tablespoons of allspice berries.

“We left this to mull overnight & at 8.00am on the day of serving put the pot onto the hob (needs very strong person).

“Pour 16 x litres dry cider into pot (we used Henry Westons vintage and a very patient person)

“Leave to warm through & gently bring to simmer but never let it boil.

“Lift pot off the hob & wrap in cling film. Carry very hot, very heavy pot to the car (two very strong people needed)

“Drive car gently to Piazza Set up (borrowed camping gas burner). Lift hot & heavy pot out of car & place on camping gas burner.

“Drink & be merry!”

Alternatively

Ingredients

  • 1½ litre dry cider
  • 7 tbsp Calvados
  • 400ml apple juice
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • pared zest of orange into strips
  • 4 cloves
  • 2cinnamon sticks broken in half
  • 1 tbsp allspice berries

Method

  • STEP 1 Pour the cider, Calvados, apple juice and sugar into a large saucepan, and gently heat to mull.
  • STEP 2 Add the orange zest and spices, bring to a simmer, then turn down and keep on a low heat for 20-30 mins. Ladle into glass mugs to serve.

Image above: Giovanna with the team from Abundance London

L’infinito

Giovanna has kindly shared the poem:

L’infinito

Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,

e questa siepe, che da tanta parte

dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.

Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati

spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani

silenzi, e profondissima quïete

io nel pensier mi fingo; ove per poco

il cor non si spaura. E come il vento

odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello

infinito silenzio a questa voce

vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,

e le morte stagioni, e la presente

e viva, e ‘l suon di lei. Così tra questa

immensità s’annega il pensier mio:

e ‘l naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.

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