New band Woman’s Hour has been working with artist Oliver Chanarin to create a distinctive look across the band’s artwork and videos…
Woman’s Hour, who are originally from Kendal, but now based in London, consists of brother and sister Fiona Jane and Will Burgess, alongside drummer Josh Hunnisett and bassist Nick Graves. Fiona has worked with Chanarin (and also Adam Broomberg, Chanarin’s regular collaborator) to develop the band’s look, which they describe as being inspired by “a mutual love of didactic images”.
“Images that explain things,” they say, “how to resuscitate a dying man, or put a chain on your chihuahua, or fall over without hurting yourself. These are images made with a certain purpose, but they can be very beautiful too. Accidently beautiful, which is what we like about them.”
“All the artwork derives from instruction manuals,” they continue. “The image that you see on the cover of Darkest Place [shown top] is taken from a first aid manual that we bought in a book market. It shows a young man with a hand reaching into the frame and pressing down on his neck. It looks aggressive, but in fact the image is demonstrating how to stop bleeding from a main artery. this kind of ambiguity is intrinsic to the overall style of the band’s artwork. We definitely want to create something that is recognisable as belonging to Woman’s Hour, but it’s something that is evolving with each new release.”
Chanarin and Bloomberg are known for their use of found photography and imagery in their art projects, and some of the images used in Woman’s Hour’s art come directly from the duo’s archives. “The falling man on the cover of the To The End 7″ (above) came from a Czech police manual we found in Prague over a decade ago,” says Chanarin. “Our recent publication Holy Bible includes over 500 vernacular images from the Archive of Modern Conflict; and we also made a book called People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground that incorporates archival images from the Troubles in Northern Ireland. So the visual language that you see with Woman’s Hour is closely related to our practice. Adam and I collaborated with the band on their new video. It’s all in the family.”
The video, for Darkest Place, is shown above. Chanarin describes it as a homage to the 1971 performance Pryings by Vito Acconci (which can be viewed online here). “In our remake of this seminal piece of performance art, Fiona attempts to sing the lyrics of Darkest Place while having her eyes prised open,” he says. “It’s horrible to watch, simultaneously violent and strangely tender.”