Phil Dadson and his sound art group From Scratch have a new show and exhibition showing as part of the Auckland Arts Festival. Tim Dodd explores the sights and sounds of what the group’s created at Te Uru Gallery.
Take a length of spouting, whack it on the end with a jandal … great sound, instant percussion instrument.
The ‘percussion ensemble’ From Scratch has been using these PVC pipes for over 40 years now – it’s their iconic instrument and visual element.
The term ‘percussion ensemble’ has to suffice, because there’s no word to truly describe what From Scratch is. Visual art, film, dance, song, instrument construction have always been part of the deal.
The group’s history is being celebrated at an exhibition called 546 Moons at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi as part of the Auckland Arts Festival. And the group reforms after several years of hibernation to perform a series of gigs there under the title Heart’Heart.
Phil Dadson has been the constant member of From Scratch since its inception in 1974 and he’s also been the prime creative force.
He’s calling these performances a sort of swan song for him but he’s hopeful that the group can continue without his performing involvement. His creative vision is so integral to the group however that they could hardly go on without his input in some capacity.
From Scratch’s blend of percussion with visual and performance arts is unique, but even in terms of the musical compositions themselves, there’s nothing else quite like them.
Rebecca Celebuski is one of the new core members of the group. She’s an incredibly busy percussionist around Auckland: she performs regularly with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra; she was in last year’s Blackbird Ensemble shows of the music of Björk; she played in Gareth Farr’s new opera The Bone Feeder amongst many other shows.
As experienced as she is, she says she’s never played anything like the music of From Scratch… “probably the most interesting and most different performance I’ve ever done.
It’s really incredible and it’s an honour. And it’s also just really amazing seeing all these crazy instruments. Even as a percussionist, I’m still like a kid in the toyshop every time I enter the room. There’s something new, something else to look at and tinker with. It’s just so cool.”