Sketching Music

I’ve been trying out different sketches with music from my travels in the background as I’m always very drawn to people busking on the streets and any music that helps to create an atmosphere. I’ve paired different photos on my camera roll with different audio recordings I have from various places I’ve been and I really like the way they’ve turned out. I’d like to continue doing the same thing but somehow combine the separate recordings and create one long video showing all my illustrations with their paired soundtracks.

Louisa Thomson, 2021, ‘Double Bassist In Pencil’, Charles Bridge,Prague.

Louisa Thomson, 2021, ‘The Dancers’, dance class next to some buskers in Girona, Spain.

Louisa Thomson, 2021, ‘The Colourful Saxophonist’, buskers outside the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.

Experimenting With Sound

Since I’ve decided to work with remembered sounds from places I cannot longer visit due to the pandemic, I’ve been piecing together old video and audio recordings to recreate the places that I remember so vividly. Through listening to videos I’ve taken in the past of the places I’ve been, I’ve noticed that most of them are of music, from buskers to staged performances, I’d like to explore this further and see if I can put across the understated role music plays in creating an atmosphere and soundscape.

I’ve included a video I’ve put together using different audio recording from a range of locations and times to recreate the sounds of the James Simon park in Berlin which was one of my original locations to map the soundscape of. I’ve also recorded myself drawing a bicycle with an audio recording of the sounds of my friends and I riding bikes in Copenhagen. I’d like to do more of this, combining remembered and recorded sounds with illustrations of the sounds or my memories from that particular place.

‘Recreated Memories’, Louisa Thomson, 2021.

‘A Cycle Through Copenhagen’, Louisa Thomson, 2021.

Exploring Memories Through Sound

To begin this project, I’ve thought of the places in the world that mean the most to me and the places I have the nicest memories of. I think it’s particularly interesting to do this project during our third, and hopefully final, lockdown. Simply because the places I have chosen to revisit through remembered sounds, are places that I can no longer visit, at least for the time being. I am able to cherish the memories I have of these places through photographs, but this project is a chance for me to travel back in time to snapshots of happiness in my life while truly appreciating the sounds that bring these places to life and makes them real.

My first memory to dissect is that of Neal’s Yard in London. I have lovely memories of this spot purely because of it’s vibrant colours and bustling atmosphere, something I’d never thought of as a thing to take for granted. Neal’s Yard is fascinating as it’s a fairly quiet courtyard in the centre the capital of the UK, so the sounds from outside the walls can be heard in the distance, but Neal’s Yard somehow remains guarded from the hectic buzz of London. I think this would be an interesting soundscape to map for this reason, I’d like to see how I could map the idea of sound almost breaking in to an almost secluded place.

~ coffee shop noises, cups clinking, machines whirring ~ bustling ~ vibrant colours echoing busy atmosphere ~ indistinct chatter ~ creaking of shop doors ~ chatter growing louder as you enter the courtyard ~ trees swaying ~ shoes clacking on the ground ~

The second place I’d like to explore is the James Simon Park in Berlin. I went interrailing with my friends almost two years ago and this park remains one of my favourite memories from the trip. It’s central spot in the city didn’t take away from its stillness, something I found confusing due to the number of people sitting on the grass near us. The general atmosphere was the thing that made it peaceful, lots of groups of people playing cards, listening to nearby buskers and enjoying each other’s company.

~ busker playing the saxophone ~ occasional above ground trains driving past ~ indistinct chatter ~ laughter ~ noises from boats passing on the river ~ sound of moving water ~ berlin cathedral bells ~ bike bells, sound of bike tyres on the road ~

The final place I’ve chosen to map the sounds of is the home of family friends in Barcelona. They live in a fifth floor apartment very close to the centre of Barcelona, but due to it’s height, the bustle of the city can be only be heard in the distance and is more of a quiet buzz. Sounds of traffic can be heard below, occasional car horns and alike, but only when the windows are open. At night, the distant hum of Barcelona’s nightlife can be heard, along with the sound of air conditioning units on the outsides of other buildings. Inside, the sounds of cooking are always in the background, chopping and simmering and sizzling, along with the quiet rotation of the Getz/Gilberto lp in the background, traveling from the far end of the open plan living room/kitchen. The intermittent rustle of the leaves of houseplants when a breeze come through the window.

~ sound of records spinning ~ cooking sounds ~ cat’s paws tapping on the floor ~ air conditioning units ~ distant traffic ~ distant city buzz ~ warm breezes ~

Smoke and Caffeine Fuelled Conversations

I’ve really enjoyed this project because of the many ideas I’ve had before coming to some resolved work that I’m really pleased with. I began by simply researching coffee in the simplest way possible but I was unsure where to go from there because it didn’t feel like a personal project with can angle I could connect with. I was then told to think about what coffee meant to me that it didn’t mean to other people. This was when I remembered the film ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ which showed short vignettes of the conversations shared by people while smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Coffee is such a special drink to me purely because of it’s talent to bring people together and fuel an incredible range of conversations. I think this is a beautiful concept and is something that I think coffee and cigarettes have in common. Some of my most cherished memories are those when I’ve had both lovely and bizarre conversations over coffee and cigarettes. I’ve depicted some of these memories of conversations through illustrations paired with text drawn to look like smoke and steam. Music is also a very important thing in my life and I have a habit of making lots of small playlists full of songs that I can relate to lots of specific moments in my life so I thought I would include one that I made for this project as it really helped me to retreat back into my memories of some of my favourite conversations.

~ Gunga Din, The Libertines ~ Maybe Tomorrow, Stereophonics ~ Tender, Blur ~ Pedestal, Bombay Bicycle Club ~ Cigarettes and Coffee, Otis Reading ~ Once Around the Block, Badly Drawn Boy ~ Silent Sigh, Badly Drawn Boy ~ Sweet Disposition, Temper Trap ~ Flesh And Bone, Brendan Benson ~ Uptown Top Ranking, Althea And Donna ~ Vienna, Billy Joel ~ Swallowtail, Wolf Alice ~ Freazy, Wolf Alice ~ No Diggity, Chet Faker ~ What A Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong ~ Feeling Good, Nina Simone ~ Back To Black, Amy Winehouse ~ Life in Technicolor, Coldplay ~ Sinnerman, Nina Simone ~ Iguana Bird, Pete Yorn, Scarlet Johansson ~

Coffee and Cigarettes

During this project I’ve been thinking a lot about coffee and it’s place in my life and wider society. While doing this research, I remembered a short film I watched during the first lockdown last year called ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ directed by Jim Jarmusch. It shows a series of short vignettes of famous personalities engaging in conversation whilst enjoying a coffee and a cigarette. While some people might find this kind of film boring, I thought it was fascinating to watch people interacting with each other and seeing that, famous or not, coffee is something that can be appreciated by everyone, regardless of class, background, race or gender. I’m fascinated by the conversations had over a cup of coffee as I think its an opportunity for any topic to be discussed so I’d like to create an artists book of illustrations depicting different conversations I overhear or have heard in the past between people having a coffee sharing a cigarette.

All images – screen caps from ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’.

Exploring the World of Coffee

I’ve chosen to research coffee for this project as it’s something that’s very much part of my daily routine and is an important thing to me. Not only is coffee something that features in my life everyday,  it is also something that I associate with my family and being with them.

I am interested in the part coffee plays in society, “how do you have your coffee?” is a common question to be asked and upon meeting a friend, old or new, “do you want to grab a coffee?” is an immediate response to polite introductory small talk. It is something that brings people together and I’d like to explore this through a series of illustrations and photographs.

Illustration of the ‘Coffee Belt’ of the world paired with coffee visual research.

Coffee percolator still lives.

Coffee pot still lives.

Still life and line drawing

Continuous line drawings

Coffee bean illustration

Coffee bean illustration

All coffee visual research

cof·fee /ˈkôfē,ˈkäfē/  noun  The berries harvested from species of Coffea plants.

Final Outcome

This project was to investigate how an artistic tool could become the artwork through deconstruction and reconstruction. These final photographs were exploring the kind of movement that could be achieved by the handling of paintbrush fragments. I think they capture the beauty in chaos and demonstrate the progression of disorder to calm, and that this journey is often as powerful as a finished piece.

Removing the Function

This week, I continued to play with the idea of deconstruction and started making collages made up of different paintbrushes. I’ve also began doing some continuous line drawings of each layout I arranged which give me ideas from the different shapes I see within the drawings. While holding the pieces of paintbrush in my hands, I noticed the satisfying sound they made when shaken so I’d like to see what I could do with that sound, maybe creating a video with that as the audio.


Paintbrush Experiments

I’ve decided on a paintbrush as my found object as I’d like to explore the possibility of  making the ‘tool’ the artwork rather than just a painting utensil. I began deconstructing a paintbrush in the most literal sense I could think of by sawing it into small pieces and reassembling it in different patterns.



Hi everybody!

My name’s Louisa and I’m a second year jewellery and silversmithing student at ECA. I’m from a little town outside Stirling, not too far from Edinburgh so I’m very much local. I’ve always been surrounded by creativity, my parents are both keen art collectors and my mum is also a silversmith. Because of my course, I tend to think in 3D, but I enjoy a good sketch as well! I love photography and I use it as a strong basis for a lot of my work, I find it fascinating the things you can find out from a photograph. I love music and I’m listening to everything from Miles Davis and The Rolling Stones to R.E.M. and The Smiths everyday. I find it very difficult to work in silence so music plays a big part in my design process so any recommendations are always welcome! Although I’m at the art school, this course is very new to me so I’m looking forward to broadening my material use and finding new ways to work.

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