The centre of my work is an exploration of how we encounter sounds, how we find pleasure through our sense of hearing, and how we create music within ourselves by the act of listening.

I work with the simplest of materials – bits of wood, slabs of slate, water drips, wind, leaves, snail shells – and construct them into sculptural forms that allow their inherent sounds to resonate. The resulting soundscapes are as simple or as complex as the human observer chooses to make them. I look for a balance between chance and intention, between stasis and change, to hold and stimulate the attention.

I hope my work is easy to appreciate sensually, but I also want to raise questions about the frontier between our experiences of the natural world and of humanly produced artefacts. What is the difference between a beautiful leaf and a beautiful melody? When does the regular rhythm of dripping water transform itself into the beat and cadences of music? I enjoy stepping back from my sculptures and seeing how people relate to them. I am always pleased when I see someone lingering with one or two pieces that they find a personal connection with. I try to imagine the interior story that he or she is creating but I can never know what it is.

Will Menter, 2009


The common thread, if there is one, is that I leave the materials close to their elemental state and coax complex sounds out of them. I am tempted to say I let the materials speak themselves, as some artists do, but that would be a deception. It’s true that I don’t impose a meaning; it feels more like enabling or guiding an exploration. Or, putting it another way, it is a relationship between creator and observer, which is made through the medium of the piece. Always, it is the senses of the human observer that create the work, not the material itself.

The elemental state of materials. A vague phrase perhaps?

To me the elements are neither the scientific periodic table, nor the earth, air, fire, water quartet. I try to reflect on how I experience the world, and I arrive at a list, which is symbolic rather than comprehensive or rigorous. Wood is certainly one of my elements. It is the part of the wider world of plants that I relate most to. Stone is another, represented in my work by slate and ceramic, the physical non-living world that seems timeless. Air and water, life givers, I see as two sides of the same element joining the living world to the non-living. Finally, there is human, representing the whole animal world. Being one of them, I’m hard-wired to think of humans before the other animals.

But I try to see beyond that too. It is surely one of the gifts of self-consciousness that our capacity for intense introspection and analysis of the human condition can eventually lead to an understanding that we are not superior to other life forms? Not being a philosopher, I take this question no further. But that’s how I see my work, making an exploration of these elements that I’ve just mentioned - wood, stone, air, water and then, reflexively, humanity.

Will Menter, 2007

Art and Life Forms

Always there is sound.

If it makes sense to talk of a scale between noise and music, with music being sound that pleases more than noise in some way, then…

Always there is music.

But, if noise is simply sound that wasn’t intended, then…

Always there is noise too.

Always there are objects with physical forms. Made objects and found objects.

Always there is a human body.

A body that interacts with objects. A body that exists somewhere. A body that makes sounds. Or…

Sometimes there is a body that just listens, receives with all the senses,
but doesn’t act.

Always there is thought and reflection.

Always all these elements interact with each other and create experiences.

Always these experiences are part of life.

Equally, formed by and forming...


Will Menter, 2010

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