“She went hysterical when I was taken away and it took two people to hold her down.”
“As for my birth father, I don’t know anything other than his name.”
These are just some of the harrowing quotes from transcripts compiled on the History of Adoption website
by Monash University.
This tragedy of recent Australian history forms the foundation of the electroacoustic work Imago: for flute, voice and electronics.
Imago has a very serious and emotive origin. It is a response to the stories of those affected by forced adoption within Australia. The work layers text derived from victim transcripts, interviews and governmental hearings with live and processed flute and voice with music concrete derived from domestic soundscapes. Reflecting societal attitudes and the eventual governmental apology to the victims.
Forced Adoption in Australia reached its peak from 1950 -1980, with the subsequent apology to the victims of Forced Adoption by the Gillard government on 21st March 2013. The text for the work is drawn from transcripts on the History of Adoption Project by Monash University, the government apology by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the book ‘Coming home to truth’ by Judith Hendrikson.
The word Imago is a scientific term referring to the stage that an insect reaches sexual maturity during the process of metamorphosis. In the text derived from Judith Henriksen’s book Coming Home to Truth she refers to herself as the butterfly lady. The title therefore references the following: Judith (whose book much of the text is derived from), the women affected by forced adoption and the resilience of humans to heal and emerge from trauma as a transformed and brilliant being.
ART MUSIC: ELECTROACOUSTICS
The piece Imago fits into the genre of Art Music and within the that the sub genre of Electroacoustics. Electroacoustics is a medium where acoustic instruments are played in combination with electronic sounds. Imago uses a combination of pre-recorded and processed acoustic instruments, field recordings from multifarious sources and live processing of the live acoustic instruments. The object of the compositional process is to blend all of these elements so that they form a unified soundworld which is intrinsically linked to the extra-musical content.
It was created with the generous support of Marian Quartly, Emeritus Professor of History at Monash University and Judith Hendriksen whose book Coming Home To Truth is the basis for the narrative which bookends the piece.
Imago features on the album Other Voices curated and performed by Lamorna Nightingale. The recording features Lamorna Nightingale on flute, Jane Sheldon soprano and Fiona Hill on live electronics.
Imago is a finalist in the APRA AMCOS AMC 2020 Art Music Awards for Work Of The Year 2020 Electroacoustic/ Sound Art.
Imago is one of three works featured in an education kit released by the NSW Department of Education.
See the supporting PDF here.
Listen on Spotify
Find out more about the Other Voices project
Imago was created with the support of:
Art Music Fund
Australia Council for the Arts
Finalist in the APRA AMCOS 2020 Art Music Awards for AMC Work Of The Year 2020 Electroacoustic/ Sound Art.