Susan Rawcliffe

Susan Rawcliffe



Gallery show, May 13 – June 17:
Each of the 4 hollow roundish forms on top is connected to one of 4 lower ovaloid hollow forms. Underneath & in the middle of the 4 hollow ovaloid forms, each hides a whistle. The 4 roundish forms on the top have an open hole for the insertion of a dangling 3 foot long piece of plastic fish tank clear tubing. The performers can gently pick up the tubing & blow from the tubing through to the whistle. Three whistles are uniquely breathy; one with a fingerhole has a louder sound. The players heads then form a final last layer of round forms. Molecules are ready for connections to & from the in/out world, to rise & fall & to rise again.

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For about 40 years, Susan Rawcliffe researched, made and played clay musical instruments; she studied the marvelous archaic ceremonial flutes from PreHispanic meso-American cultures: West Mexico, Olmec, Mayan & Aztec. These studies informed & inspired her love of timbre, resulting in a great range of flutes, pipes, ocarinas, whistles, trumpets, didjeridus and sound sculptures. She was able to study the collection of West Mexican ancient flutes in Fowler Museum at UCLA, and then applied for a NEA Craft Project Grant in the early 1980s. What a gift! to spend 3 months traveling through Mexico examining, measuring, playing and recording many ancient flutes. Playing ancient instruments in amazing collections, and listening with body, mind & heart to sounds from other worlds, the artists’ hands soon begin to itch, leading to new flute constructions and new sounds.
To share the jewels, she wrote four articles, all published, 3 in Germany; 1 in the USA. All are available on the artist’s web page:
“Complex Acoustics in Pre-Columbian Flute Systems,” 1992; Smithsonian Institute
“Sounding Clay: Pre-Hispanic Flutes,” 2002. Germain Archaeological Institute (DAI)
“Eight West Mexican Flutes in Fowler Museum,” 2007. University of Bamburg
“Entrancing Sounds: difference tones in prehispanic double flutes,” 2008. (DAI)
The artist has performed widely both solo and in ensemble, including her trio, MANY AXES, with whom she made 2 CDs. In the late 1990’s she often flew to New York to play her flutes in Off Broadway performances of Juan Darien by Julie Taymor & Elliot Goldenthal. The cast & musicians enjoyed traveling to theater festivals in Jerusalem, Israel; Edinburough, Scotland; and more including performances on Broadway at Lincoln Center, Vivian Beaumont Theater.
Susan has lectured, taught widely & exhibited and now enjoys playing for others, sometimes creating two strange & wonderful voices by singing while playing her flutes.
In 2/2014, she had the extraordinary experience of playing in Unhappening/happening, created by a Saddleback College artist-teacher with cancer, rehearsing his death.
She would be honored to assist in such an event again.

Artist Location: San Pedro, CA

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Posted in Artists 2023.