Themes for Buildings and Spaces, by Andrew Wasylyk, is an album of musical portraits of different places in Dundee. You can find it in cassette, CD and digital download here. We had a quick catch up with Andrew about his project.
“NEoN Digital Arts Festival approached me and asked if I would be interested in adding any kind audio to the programme. While I was doing some investigation for this project I rediscovered the work of the late Joseph McKenzie, a wonderful photographer who moved to Dundee with his family in the early 50s. He photographed some of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and Gorbals street kids in Glasgow. He was a photography lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone, and during his lunch breaks he would go out and photograph Hawkhill”.
The 2005 exhibition ‘Hawkhill: Death of a Living Community‘, displaying some of the photographs by Joseph McKenzie, inspired Andrew to focus on specific buildings for the projects in his exhibition. Sometime afterwards, when revisiting the work, he realised the potential for the pieces in the exhibition to become a fully realised album and wrote a few other songs under the same concept. Slowly he honed the whole thing into a more robust and defined collection.
When discussing the relationship between the different songs and places, Andrew explains: “They were nostalgic celebrations of these kinds of places. They are kind of unashamedly romanticising them a bit. There is definitely a duality between the existing history and my romanticised vision of it all”. The album, overall, looks at Andrew’s hometown from a fascinating vantage point. It touches both on the historical structures in Dundee as well as his personal experience of it, but even more impressively – perhaps given the instrumental nature of the songs – it allows the listener to project their own emotional experiences of the city in the different songs and spaces.
Themes for Buildings and Spaces is a thoughtful experience of Dundee’s art, architecture and urban space.
At the end of our conversation, when asked about his favourite places to be in Dundee (that not many others might know about), Andrew explains: “Part of the reason for me to write a song about Menzieshill, apart from growing up there, was when you go in there from the east, just up from Balgay Cemetery, you can see this incredible panoramic picture. A view of Invergowrie Bay and it is just… wonderful, really. It really is. And at different stages of that through the day, when the Tay is out, the sun is setting… As for other places, there probably are, but I’ll maybe just keep that to myself”.