And It Came To Pass (2013 – 2014)


This work is a unique collaborative installation: both painting and music equally.

It is a very original collaboration between established British artist Chris Gollon and Grammy-nominated Chinese classical musician Yi Yao, which led to a 41ft (12.49m) long painting and an 18-minute musical composition, both having inspired the other’s creation. It is shown here with a selection of studies, the latter painted after the main work was completed.

Chris Gollon, a leading contemporary artist in his early 60s, with a lifelong interest in artistic ‘boundary crossing’ and from a generally Christian and western European culture, collaborates in this major work with a Chinese, Buddhist, female classical musician in her 30s. Despite all these differences there sprang nonetheless the most sensitive and intuitive mutual understanding through their very different art forms.

And It Came To Pass was Initially premiered in July 2014 at the prestigious Henley Festival, where the painting was shown with Yi Yao and her ensemble playing two performances each evening as part of the programme, which also included Bryan Ferry, Burt Bacharach and Joss Stone.

In summer 2013 this unique collaboration was begun between Yi Yao and Chris Gollon. Neither Yao nor Gollon knew where exactly the collaboration would go, which made it doubly exciting, with one discipline inspiring or influencing the other. It is an in-depth look at the relationship between colour and music, and rhythm and rhyme in both art forms. Chris Gollon has painted a work with a huge sweep of humanity in it, encompassing the Seven Ages of Man, which is 41ft (12.49m) long in nine panels. He painted a panel, showed it to Yi, they then discussed it and she then composed a piece of music inspired by what she had seen and added her own musical colours of feeling and thought, which she then played and recorded for Chris. He then played the music in his studio incessantly and responded in paint to the emotions and colours the music gives, moving us again in a new direction. The next panel he painted was then shown to Yi to help inspire the next piece of music, and occasionally either he repainted part of a previous image or Yi revisited her previous composition. This two-way traffic of musical and artistic inspiration occurred nine times, once for each panel, and the intellectual conversations Yi and Chris had were fascinating, as they discussed in depth and work with concepts including synesthesia and the colour of sound. This is both a painting and a piece of music; but each is also an integral part of the other. It is a fusion of the two art forms that subtly interplay with each other to create a greater whole.

“For most of my life, I have sought the company of musicians. I just like them. Around the time I met Yi Yao, I was a First Artist in Residence and Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University. I was working with some leading philosophers on the subject of “being human”. For some reason I hadn’t thought of it before, but why not collaborate with a musician? It was Yi who sparked the idea. We come from very different cultures, a different age group, and practice in different art forms. Yet despite these differences, we have embarked on an entirely new and exciting venture. A coming together of music and painting in complete harmony.” Chris Gollon, 2014

There is an interesting article with Chris Gollon about his music-related work in this leading classical music magazine, to read click: Gramophone