Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison

Bower

Music’s my element, something I need, like air and light.

For most of 2020, musicians couldn’t make live music with or for other people. What to do, when the world tilts so sharply that it’s hard to stand?

I picked wattle in an abandoned golf course.

I tried to support an ever-increasing circle of bewildered people.

I grieved and railed at the state of the world, and panicked about earning a living.

I did daily maths with my 10-year-old niece.

And I prowled my strictly 5km-from-home lockdown enclosure, wild with ideas.

A commission arrived. A gift, and with it, a slow-flooding return of a sense of hope, purpose.

I assembled a cast of people whose work I love, some of whom I’d never met: a harpist and a recording engineer, eight living composers, eight dead ones, two visual artists, a writer, filmmaker, lighting designer and producer.

I was thinking about shelter. I wondered whether together, we could create a sense of that?

My mind went to bowerbirds and their obsessive collecting habits. And also, their ability to build magical architecture out of fragments — structures that entwine art and survival.

Slowly, gently, through a close-to-home, quietly attentive year, we each created our own versions of sanctuary. And then sifted, sorted and fashioned them into a bower.

Bower will be released as an album by ABC Classics on May 14, and tour nationally for Musica Viva July 10-26.

Genevieve Lacey — recorders
Marshall McGuire — harps
Martel Ollerenshaw — producer
Jim Atkin — sound engineer
Lou Bennett, Andrea Keller, Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, John Rodgers, Lachlan Skipworth, Bree van Reyk, Erkki Veltheim, composers
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison — art
Jennifer Ackerman — words
Angus Kemp — film
Niklas Pajanti — light

Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison