Art in galleries and museums normally exists at a distance, sometimes behind rope barriers and often with the message, "please do not touch". Artist Gawain Hewitt breaks from convention by making playable sculptures that you can actually interact with. To demonstrate his touchable works, he has collaborated with photographer Emile Holba.
Captured in a new series, Please Touch, Holba brings to life Hewitt's quirky pieces by demonstrating how they might be used in real life. Touch any of his sculptures and pre-recorded music or sound bursts from them.
This audio is recorded outside of Hewitt's studio in spaces that offer the best representation of each artwork. While others might contain music and sound co-composed in community settings such as psychiatric hospitals, charities and schools. For these improvised recorded pieces, Hewitt either works alone or with other musicians, like, for example, the City Of London Sinfonia and the Royal Albert Hall.
It's of no surprise that sound is a focus, as Hewitt has been a musician his whole life. Today, the artist and composer creates 'sonic art' as part of his practice in the hope of answering three questions: who get's to be a musician? Where is the line between performer and audience? And what is a musical instrument?
Speaking of the accompanying photography for Hewitt's latest series, photographer Emile Holba said: "I came up with the idea to show Gawain's hand in the photographs to illustrate the touch or command element of each artwork.
"Though I've known Gawain for many years and am familiar with his work, it wasn't until I started to place the artworks together that I saw such a consistency in scale, exquisite detail and form. For such complex structures that have to stand up to extended public usage and provide very different sonic purposes, they still manage to hold a delicacy and curiosity. Also, it is incredible just how much bespoke electronics are hidden away inside the structures! All are perfectly self-contained pieces of sonic art."