The Blyth Centre represents a core aspect of the music and visual arts scene at Imperial; and 2021 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Blyth Centre as the College’s much-cherished resource for artistic and scientific collaboration. There has been a lot going on over the academic year: and the Centre is excited to announce its first ever exhibition of the Blyth Fellows’ recent work!
The anniversary launched with a marathon 14-hour multi-media art installation in the College Main Entrance, centred around Erik Satie’s eccentric piano work, Vexations. “Many agree on a common sequence of reactive stages to the work: fascination morphs into agitation, into all-encompassing agony; but participants who withstand that phase enter a state of deep tranquillity.” Attendees of the exhibition described a thrilling performance --- as if they were hearing sound for the very first time.
The autumn term brought music and art together again for Orlando Consort’s lecture-recital Listening to Pictures. “A visual and aural feast featuring some of the greatest composers and painters of the early Renaissance.”
The lecturer, Tim Shephard from the University of Sheffield, vividly reveals how “Renaissance art is full of sound – angels sing from altarpieces, ancient deities compete in musical contests, and music provides an essential backdrop to sensuous, amorous encounters.”
Director of the Blyth Centre Oliver Gooch argues that one of the most beautiful examples of mathematics in musical motion is J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. In a collaboration between mathematician Marcus du Sautoy and pianist Charles Owen, the Sounding Symmetry exhibition examined how the ideas of symmetry are at work throughout the thirty variations of Bach’s work.
Finishing off the year, the immensely popular Supernova exhibition in the Blyth Gallery, curated by guest artist Sarah Kogan, was a must-see event.
2020 saw the RCA Imperial EDI commission, an exhibition of extended portraits of Imperial’s community created by Royal College of Art students and alumni, showcased before the pieces become an important part of the College’s permanent art collection. In March, music and medicine came together with Professor Robert Winston’s Musical Analysis. Alongside violinist Jacqueline Roche, Lord Winston examined “the particular relationship between music and the medical conditions of classical composers.”
The Blyth Centre’s 20th anniversary is due to culminate this June with the Blyth summer party on the Queen’s Lawn (pictured above).
“Join us for an afternoon showcasing the multifarious talent of our music societies and get creative with the beautifully simple art of block printing with Louisa Loakes. Food, drink and good cheer will be in abundance so join friends and colleagues to round off our anniversary in style.”