“Embrace the Risk”: Quick Questions for Nick Field

In the run-up to a first sharing of Songs that Nobody Taught Me as a part of POP! Festival, we caught up with Nick Field to find out more about what to expect.

You wear many hats as an artist, how would you describe what you do to someone you’ve never met?

Probably quite badly! Nowadays I lead with ‘artist’ to describe what I do and just see where the conversation goes from there. People usually ask what kind of artist, and that’s where it can get a bit more tricky to describe because that shifts depending on the project and my focus at the time. Primarily I work in performance, but my work is cross-form and can be understood as having a relationship to poetry at its core, though that may interpret visually or physically, not only textually, depending on the context and material I am working with.

I’m always excited by keeping my work playful and dexterous, so I bring elements of theatre, music, contemporary performance and comedy into the work. And I like to make things very visual too, which feeds into my work as an Art Director for photoshoots.

What can we expect at Songs That Nobody Taught Me? Who is this show for?

Music is very much at the centre of this work, and I’m really excited about that.  So, it’s essentially a collection of songs that unpicks ideas around community, legacy and a relationship of those things to the area around Ladbroke Grove. Many of the songs I’ve sourced from folk music traditions. The songs range from a reworking of a 400-year-old corker about negotiating life in London with a lot of contemporary relevance, a haunting lament by someone who has literally partied themselves to their deathbed. I’ve also made a version of ‘Portobello Road’ from the Disney classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks in collaboration with a local community choir.

Music is very much at the centre of this work, it’s essentially a collection of songs that unpicks ideas around community, legacy and a relationship of those things to the area around #LadbrokeGrove Click To Tweet

The piece is for people who are up for a bit of an adventure. It’s at an early stage in creating the work and this will be a sharing of it in development. I always think that’s an exciting proposition because it’s about me and the audience discovering the work together. As a performer that can feel a bit risky, because it’s in some ways an experiment, and you never really know how experiments will work out. But, once you embrace the risk, it’s a chance to present something new and unique. I think it’s great that the ethos of the POP! Festival is about enabling artists to experiment and try stuff out, and letting audiences in on that. So, let’s see how it goes!

How does Songs That Nobody Taught Me fit in with your previous work?

It’s the first time I’ve made music the focus of a piece and I can’t wait to perform them. Music and sound have been an essential part of my work before, but I’ve been thinking about creating a song cycle for ages. It’s thrilling to make the first steps towards that with this performance.

songs that nobody taught me, nick field

As an art director, what would be a dream project for you to work on?

I’d love to work with some of the musicians I grew up loving: Bjork, Grace Jones, PJ Harvey and Kate Bush. All of them understand the power and poetry of imagery and that would be an Art Directing dream for me.

What key piece of advice would you give your younger self if you could?

Stop procrastinating and putting it off, and just make the art you want to make.

Stop procrastinating and putting it off, and just make the art you want to make. @nickfieldartist #WestwayArtists #2020POP Click To Tweet

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by people who seek to bring communities together and foster human connection. That inspires me to explore ways of doing that with my art.

What is next for you?

I’m going to be working on developing this piece into a full show, and also starting development on another new performance work exploring questions around representation and bodies. I’m also working on some writing projects. A lot of new things, but that’s always really exciting.

What question did you wish I’d asked you?

What’s your signature dish. And then I could tell you that it’s Baked Alaska.

Come and watch a first sharing of Songs that Nobody Taught Me on Thursday 26th March, 7.30-8.30pm at the Westbank Gallery. Book here.

You might also like

westway arts and culture logo