The project has its origins in the first lockdown period when my partner and I recorded our debut album at our kitchen table and released it online. One of the songs they recorded was House of Mercy, a powerful song written by Grammy-winning bluegrass and roots musician Sarah Jarosz.
Prior to Covid, we had been photographing and painting dancers and the idea then emerged to ask some of the dancers we had encountered via online workshops if they would be interested in devising a dance to go with the song. Luckily all the dancers agreed and the House of Mercy Project was born. The principal intention was to show how artists had managed to stay creative during the pandemic and also how it was possible to not only work online but also to develop international partnerships.
The six dancers from Spain, France, India, Romania and the UK were by now all in their respective countries and we agreed that they would video their dance and send it to us. I would then make stills photographs from the video and Jeannie would use screenshots to paint from.
This process went through a number of iterations as we discussed developments to the dance via FaceTime and Zoom meetings with the dancers and I found different ways of photographing a computer screen and creating dynamic images.
The project has developed over the past year and we now have over 40 paintings and sketches, as well as hundreds of photographs, each dancer's individual video and a 15-minute documentary in which each dancer describes their process and reaction to lockdown. I also composed underlying theme music for this.
The Project will be exhibited at the Pie Factory Gallery in Margate in June 2023.
The House of Mercy Project
House of Mercy promotional video featuring Erin Pollitt, Corina Andrian, Cat Lawther, Rut Nache, Pranali Kalkar and Marine Tournet. Music: House of Mercy, written by Sarah Jarosz performed here by Jeannie Clarke and Phil Curry.
Edited by Can Aksoy
Paintings by Jeannie Clarke, photography by Phil Curry. All of this was online and the images were taken from the computer screen and post-edited.