Jason Hodgson is 18 years old. He has lived in Thanet his whole life. Jason is an aspiring Musical Director and is currently studying Music at Canterbury Christchurch University. In 2012, he participated in ‘Art of Sound’, a collaborative workshop between Turner Contemporary and Pie Factory Music. It introduced young people, who wouldn’t normally have had access to the relevant resources, to art and music and gave them the opportunity to create their own work. The young people drew on the then concurrent exhibition ‘Turner and the Elements’ (displayed at Turner Contemporary 28 January 2012 – 13 May 2013) for inspiration. Jason has since gone on to be Musical Director of a new A Capella Choir called ‘Acapella Tardis’.
Jason walked assuredly through the door of Turner Contemporary café. He had arrived early and taken some time to look at the latest exhibition before meeting me. We found a table in the window. On one side lay a changing January seascape: on the other, stood the door that Jason had just walked through; “Before, I would have just waited […] at the door […] I wouldn’t have thought to just walk in and go and look at the exhibit – I would go – ‘That’s not my thing.’”
Before ‘Art of Sound’, Jason had a particular way of seeing things. It was, in his mind, distinctly ‘objective’: there were rules to be followed and more walls than doors. Classical music was his ‘thing’ and he was beginning to feel like he’d heard it all before: “I had writer’s block […] I couldn’t think of anything else.” ‘Art of Sound’ changed things for Jason, it challenged him to look at art and reconsider the rules that were responsible for inhibiting his writing. Jason chose a Turner painting aligned with the element ‘Air’ to inspire his musical composition. In looking at it, and interpreting it, he found a means of liberation: “Air felt like it could do anything – go anywhere […] it gave freedom”, he said, grinning.
The freedom of the element gave licence to freedom in Jason’s music. Composing a contemporary piece. learning to use unfamiliar technology, and a first encounter with Turner’s work marked a shift, not only in Jason’s music but also in himself: “It was […] ‘a breakthrough’ – it kind of hammered down a wall that my Asperger’s had built up.” Jason is no longer bound by rules. He is now obsessed with contemporary music and buoyant in his confidence to try new things at university: “’’Art of Sound’ actually helped progress my uni work before I even got there. I would have been stuck in a rut…” In being exposed to a wealth of new ideas, it led Jason to exude a newfound confidence: “I look at my class and think ‘How do you not get this? […] I’m the one who’s not supposed to get unusual, strange, bizarre concepts!’”
As well as musical concepts, ‘Art of Sound’ had enabled Jason to consider a new conception of himself, and who he was ‘supposed’ to be: “It helped me explore my own disabilities whilst helping to interpret other people’s disabilities”. Sitting in the window, 1 year on, Jason spoke about a 9 year old boy with Asperger’s whom he had met at ‘Art of Sound’. He had related to him; “he was very rule orientated”. By working with him, he saw him overcome a difficulty that Jason attributed to his Asperger’s: “Over that small period of time, his interpretation of other people’s reactions […] increased”. Exploring Art and sound together meant that Jason now saw a greater capacity for interpretation in people’s facial expressions. Art had opened doors for him, and he was to open them for someone else too.
When I came to ask Jason to describe Turner Contemporary in three words he said: “I can’t really put a phrase on it because it’s ‘forever changing’.” It was nearly three words so we bent the rules and went with it. “Forever changing?” I said. “I can’t see it in the same way again – even the same exhibit […] I went to see ‘The Kiss’, every time I came in I saw it slightly differently.” ‘Forever changing’ reflected, so aptly, what ‘Art of Sound’ had instilled in Jason, the freedom to see beyond what he saw at first sight, to reinterpret it, and moreover a tendency to break the rules.
This conversation was conducted and written by Moya Stirrup. To read more of Moya’s conversations for Turner Contemporary, click here.
Moya is an avid conversation conservationist. In April 2013, she initiated a project to capture Margate in conversation. To read her ever expanding archive of distinct voices, each bound by their ties to the town, click here.