i desire no commendation
**Composer: Mira Calix 2011
Instrumentation: Voice & Electronics Performer: Sarah Lucas
Duration: 13.29 **
This piece was originally presented at the National Portrait Gallery London commissioned in partnership with Illustrius, a 6 channel installation. The premise was a simple one and part of an ongoing project at the NPG, find a painting within the collection and create a musical response. The painting i chose was a portrait of Henry VIII sixth wife Catherine Parr that was sitting in gallery 1 - the wife who 'survived' him. if you know your school chants. History has painted Catherine as an older, quiet, slightly dull and dutiful wife, but once i started researching her, i realised there was so much more to her than meets the eye. She was outspoken, highly educated, advocated for the education of women in the court and wrote and published two books, radical and religious and highly spirited by all accounts.
I decided i wanted to use some of her non liturgical text and unearthed a letter she wrote to the King while he was away in France towards the end of his life, and i've used fragments from this letter. i was particularly struck by the phrase i desire no commendation in response to praise from her husband. My new picture of Catherine was that of a young, confident, independent and passionate woman.
I discussed the project with Sarah Lucas , who has a naturally mellifluous voice and a deep love and knowledge of a breadth of music. Sarah is better known as a visual artist, recently representing the British Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. Although very musical, she doesn't read music, so we recorded the vocals with an in ear monitor with piano accompaniment. Sarah Lucas is the subject of 15 portraits, 12 of them self-portraits in the gallery collection. This is an unusually high figure (for a non aristocrat) and i loved that through this piece, we forged a connection between these two remarkable women housed in two very different galleries.