Inspired by Heritage

By Catarina Figueiredo Soares

Have you ever though that your heritage, or something in your culture could be an inspiration for something new creatively? These artists would say so. Presented here are a few examples of artist that took something from a culture or their own heritage and built them into a form of art. There is a brave freedom that tradition gives for imagination. Sometimes shocking, always beautiful. Come find out some, here in Inspired by Heritage.

Music, art, architecture, or poetry, in fact any form of creativity can have as inspiration anything. It can be from someones own life experience as well as something external. Below we explore three different facets of creative artists. These artists’ inspiration was their others and their own cultural heritage, taking ancient ideas, and bringing new thinking to them. 

You might know the Ritual of the Seven Colours, also known as the Lila Ritual of the Moroccan Gnawa masters that takes place in a private home.

It begins after the sunset and lasts all night, with music, incense, and clothing in specific colours. Designed to cure spiritual and physical sickness, this ritual evokes different gods that have distinct colours that represent them.

African Prayers Vinyl Album

Inspired by this tradition, African Prayers, a new album, aims to bring a fresh and contemporary interpretation. Amine Mesnaoui and Labelle are the artists of this collection of seven tracks. Each piece refers to a specific colour and its associate symbolic realm of the ritual. Striving to make something rich in meanings, deep but simple and minimal but complex, these artists believe that they can deliver a sound that has heritage as an anchor yet escaping stereotypes and folkloric clichés. 

Artists Amine Mesnaoui and Labelle

The next piece we explore here is from weave to music, from a physical and tangible thing to an abstract form of music. Systems for a Score experimented electronic recordings interpreting the Al Sadu (sadoo) weave.

Hand weaves of graphic musical scores

This weaving technique is traditionally from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and central to Bedouin culture. Since ancient times, women have been weaving camel fur, sheep wool and goat hair into material for pillows, blankets, and the decoration of camel saddles, among others. Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver built a studio in the UAE to incorporate a social aspect. They created a space for collective experience (inviting other musicians, artists and children to participate). 

A Model Studio

Having culture as an inspiration, the weaves and original patterns from it are read through an Atari computer (80s game console that was physically modified by the artists) creating sounds that afterwards are used to create the music.

Systems for a Score

Still originating from heritage and culture but resulting in a different creative form there is the Kaddish, a poem. Kaddish or the ‘Mourner’s Prayer’, is a prayer in honour of the deceased. According to the Jewish religion, they say it every year on the anniversary of the death of a loved one.

It is an affirmation of Jewish faith that is spoken collectively (as some other prayers in Jewish religion) as a reminder that no mourner is alone in their grief.

Allen Ginsberg took this prayer as a foundation for his poem Kaddish. He was one of the most respected, amongst the Beat Movement and created the poem in honour of his mother. Ginsberg and others were pivotal figures in the Beat Movement. The Beat Generation was a literary and social movement from the 50s, where the writers and poets desired to transform the written word into an expression of a lived experience.

KADDISH AND OTHER POEMS

Different results but the same origin. It is amazing to see that from a culture or heritage a new perspective or in a new creative form can come to life. These are some examples, but it would be surprising to find out how many things had as a starting point tradition and customs. 

African Prayers releases on the 1st April 2022 and to find out more click here. Systems for a Score will be available on April 3rd 2022, for more information go here.

If you enjoyed reading Inspired by Heritage, why not check out Free to Be?

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