" I think what is true at the moment is my preference to make things that are beyond me, things that are realised away from my direct involvement - wishes that may become true, words that may be interpreted one way or another, descriptions of experiences that become sounds."
Every year, Sound and Music shine a light on the work of the composers who are currently in residence on our talent development programmes. These are our New Voices of 2017. They are creating new, exciting and innovative music, across disciplines, all over the UK.
Eleanor Cully is an artist based in Huddersfield. She composes pieces for instruments and ensembles, installations in spaces and galleries and performs her own work as a soloist. She has recently released a limited edition tape with artist Sarah Boulton, titled Bathroom Showroom, on her label Nun of None Fruit, 1st June 2017
What was your route into composing?
I started writing pieces on the piano when I was younger but struggled with scored composition in high school. In fact I was eventually banned from composing in Sixth Form! I took the performance route for a while but returned to composition through sonic arts and improvisation at Brunel University when I was 18.
What is it like being an artist in 2017?
Sort of similar to how it was in 2014 when I started making work in the world. However, I find myself thinking about live streaming a lot over the last few days and whether my work is ready for that. I’m not sure I want the things I make to be live streamed yet, unless I know about it in advance and can make it part of the piece. It just doesn't quite make sense for the work to be streamed to somewhere else at the exact moment it becomes so vulnerable in one place, to a few people who are there to catch it.
If you could collaborate with any living artist – who would it be?
Having done this this year in quite a special way I’m a bit hesitant to answer this question yet. I have had some truly beautiful experiences collaborating lately, but feel like I need to make some more work on my own for a while. Collaboration is wonderful when the essence of the piece is truly shared and understood together (through language and in practice) and I am just returning from this place to pause for a while.
When you are not composing, you are….
Thinking about what to make! I often spend weeks thinking about the ideas I have and which ones could become objects or sounds before I actually start making them. This is a way of working which has come about in the last year as my work used to be so much about my experience working on an instrument but I feel I have exhausted that approach and have really enjoyed the sense of space between the thoughts/language of the idea and its realisation as a piece of art or music. The space between these things I feel is really mine (or ours in collaboration), and really where my feeling is as an artist.
Do you think the word composer adequately reflects you an artist? If not, what word does?
I do prefer artist, I have to say. I think it covers the various things I do but I often change the words I use depending on the situation – who I am speaking with, what I am doing and what my idea is. Recently I have been an ‘artist’ again as I have made some visual things in spaces with visual artists. However, when working with a visual artist recently I have been referred to as a composer, I guess so they can make the distinction (although in that situation the distinction wasn't important). Someone from a performance context recently asked me whether I made music and if so what I do. I said that I preferred to write for others (which is probably not totally true). I think what is true at the moment is my preference to make things that are beyond me, things that are realised away from my direct involvement - wishes that may become true, words that may be interpreted one way or another, descriptions of experiences that become sounds.