Julie Myers

‘Song Vessels’, Julie Myers

‘Song Vessels’ was a collaboration between the Jagonari Women’s Centre and artist Julie Myers. ‘Song Vessels’ investigated the role of song in the development of memory that is shared between all cultures and encouraged the celebration of parenting, diversity, heritage and aural tradition.

Working with a group of Bengali women, ‘Song Vessels’ highlighted the significance of song in children’s early years and investigated the role of song in the development of memory. Its process involved making audio recordings of parents’ or grandparents’ voices; and saving them for their children to listen to in the future. We all have photographs of our parents and grandparents and ‘Song Vessels’ provided family members with a similarly evocative mnemonic through recorded voices in song. ‘Song Vessels’ encouraged the celebration of parenting, persity, heritage and aural tradition though song.

Babies can hear sounds from around the twenty fourth week of pregnancy. The mother’s voice is described by Russian Pediatrician Michael Lazarey as an ‘acoustic bridge’ between the cocoon of the womb and the outside world.  The English word ‘Lullaby’ comes from the late 1500s and combines two words ‘lulla’ and ‘bye’, two words specifically used to calm children. Source: Lory Stamper, Marriam-Webster.

‘Many lullabies are very basic, with just a few words repeated again and again. Wherever you go in the world, parents use similar tones and the same sort of way of singing to their babies. As well as helping a baby to sleep, lullabies have an educational purpose and serve as a comfort to children and parent.’ Sally Goddard Blyth, Director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, interview with Nina Perry, BBC world service (2013).

Workshop participants were encouraged to bring songs, photographs and objects that reflect parenting and childhood experiences. In the workshops session the group learned and exchanged songs and poems in English and Bengali, working with Roshi Nasehi, a professional singer-songwriter, and made audio recordings of individual and group singing sessions. The workshops offered training in the use of digital cameras and sound recording equipment and an experience of how a contemporary artist works within a community.

‘Song Vessels’ was commissioned by HS Projects and funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The project ran from April to September 2013.