The Colour Red At PS Art Space – Music And Art Collide In An Immersive, Fearless Installation

Published in Arts  
The Colour Red The Colour Red Image © Lucas Bowers

Art and music collide in The Colour Red, an installation from musician and writer Moana Mayatrix (of art-rock band MOANA) and artist and designer Lucas Bowers.


The installation, which uses PS Art Space in Fremantle (WA) as its home, is part comic book, rock 'n roll, dark fairy tale and cowboy saga. It's a melding of music, storytelling, art, animation and fashion.

It explores the archetypes of a woman's journey from naïve princess, to wounded woman, to warrior. And, of course, like its namesake, it's a creative vision of all things RED. The centrepiece is the animated installation, The Colour Red, illustrated by Lucas and backed by MOANA's original murder-ballad. The PS Art Space enables the installation to be an immersive viewing experience.

In a special ticketed event on 9 July after the installation's official opening, there'll be a specially choreographed performance from burlesque act Essie Foxglove and elemental drone duo Filth Goddess. Plus, of course, WAM-nominated art-rock band MOANA take to the stage.

We find out a bit more about The Colour Red from Moana and Lucas, as they describe their influences and talk about the power of collaboration.

Tell us a bit about The Colour Red.
Moana: The Colour Red is a creative collaboration between myself (as musician, writer, director, performer) and Lucas Bowers as artist and designer. 'The Colour Red' is the title of a new murder-ballad written and recorded with my band MOANA. The narrative of the murder ballad is rooted in an exploration of the energies and dichotomies that encompass the colour red – from love and passion to violence and rage. So, it’s as much a love story as it is a story of rage – particularly the rage of the repressed wild feminine. To accompany this tale, Lucas has created a dark fairy tale / comic book style animated film that is over ten minutes long. We will be hosting a multimedia installation to launch and celebrate this central piece alongside a selection of illustrated prints and a clothing collection. The Colour Red will also come alive for one night of live performance featuring a specially-curated performance by us in tones of our mystical cowboy wild woman heroine, as well as a very special performance from dark burlesque performance artist Essie Foxglove and experimental drone duo Filth Goddess.

Moana credit Shaun Ferraloro
Moana - Image © Shaun Ferraloro

What was it like to collaborate on something like this?
Moana: It’s been really incredible, and so enjoyable! To work with Lucas, an artist I admire and am in awe of constantly, has been really inspiring and enlivening to my creative spirit. We are both creative control freaks, but somehow it really works in our dynamic to create something really badass and epic with our powers combined. The gifts we bring from our different artistic practices are very complementary and it’s been a dream come true to see these visions come to life through the collaboration. It’s reminded me how great it is to work in collaboration, how many lessons are learnt personally through that intimate sharing (oh sweet surrender) and to always dream big.

Moana, talk a bit about your musical influences for those who might not be familiar with your work.
Something that Lucas said to me through this process that I thought was quite poignant, was how interesting it is that the music I make sounds nothing like the music I listen to and it’s like there’s this whole other side to me I didn’t know existed until I was there in that world of the music. I think it’s very true. Sure I could say the vocals and magical atmosphere of Jeff Buckley or Anna Calvi, the wildness and poetry of Jim Morrison or Patti Smith, the heaviness of Nick Cave or PJ Harvey. . . the cinematic-ness of Florence + The Machine or Sigur Ros. . . The grind of Massive Attack or The Dead Weather. . . But really it’s beyond me, from another world and it’s forever shifting. We’ve just been nominated in the WAM Song of The Year ‘heavy’ category, so I suppose we’re now certified on the heavy side of rock.

TheColourRedGarment1

And Lucas, how about you re your artistic influences and inspirations?
My artistic influences are very broad ranging but definitely tend toward the graphic. My favourite visual artists and heaviest influences are artists like Caravaggio, Casper David Friedrich and Alphonse Mucha, who, despite coming from different eras and genres all tend toward the very graphic. Modern artists like Jock and Eduardo Risso and of course Frank Miller carry this tradition forward. I love that sharp contrast and ability to define a subject, by knowing exactly what *not* to reveal. But in the larger sense the influences that go into my art are in all mediums, especially music and literature. Any kind of work that builds worlds and can encompass the audience in a layered experience of an imagined world fascinates me. I think that kind of storytelling is well served through a tapestry of different mediums all working in cohesion with one another to allow the audience to experience a narrative rather than just observe it.

Moana, what’s the music in this installation like? How does it complement the experience?
'The Colour Red' is a ten-minute long murder-ballad that traverses the realms of blues and rock with a haunting and theatrical edge. Which is much like the atmosphere of the installation – part rock 'n roll, dark fairy tale and mystical cowboy story. The music conjures feelings of smokey characters, passionate sex, fierce women, divine rage, heartbreak and broken beauty all together to create an immersive world of RED.

Lucas, talk a bit about your input. You illustrated something set to Moana’s music, right? What was the process behind this?
This process has been developing slowly over a lengthy period of time actually, and as we worked through the idea, many forms suggested themselves to find this final one. Originally Moana had approached me to develop the story as a comic book, the lyrics for the song forming the written narrative. It was natural that in doing this we would get more involved in the story to tease out additional elements to fit the new medium, and as we spent time doing that it eventually became clear that the only truly cohesive way for people to experience the full spectrum of the story would be with the movement allowed by animation. After that we continued (and still do!) to explore ways to express various aspects until the tale really took on a life of its own.

ARedCar TheColourRedImage © Lucas Bowers

Moana, what does the colour red represent to you?
It lives somewhere deep in the core of the earth and at the centre of life in a spectrum of intensity. . . Passion! Love! Lust! Sex! Anger! Rage! Violence! Danger! War! Horror! Vitality! I’m alive! My heart! My lips! My blood!

And Lucas, where did the inspiration come from regarding your works in this installation? What were you hoping to achieve?
Visually, there is obviously big inspiration drawn here from comic books and film noir. My background in fashion has played a role too, in developing the aspects of the show that deal with garment, but ultimately the goal here is that the various mediums deployed should all work as explorations of different ways to tell the same story. Different facets of the same crystal if you like. . .

How do you hope audiences respond to this collaboration?
Moana: Excited. . . Inspired. . . Empowered. . . Provoked to thought and feeling. . . Immersed in a world.
Lucas: Agreed. I really hope people come away feeling something, whatever that may be. It's a powerful and passionate, often dark piece, so it won't always take you to easy places to go, but I hope it takes you somewhere.

The Colour Red is on at PS Art Space (Fremantle) from 10-13 July. Opening night is 8 July, and the special ticketed performance event takes place on 9 July.

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