By James Brewer
It is remarkable that just one painting can show how small the world has become, says London artist Deborah Azzopardi.
Deborah has long enjoyed global renown for her piquant and playful Pop Art portraits of faux romantic episodes involving smart young people. One of her best loved pieces is called Sshh… It shows a glamorous female with her well manicured, red-nailed finger seductively pressed against her lips. Prints of the illustration hang on living room walls world-wide and those who possess it proudly consider it part of the furniture.
By chance, Deborah found out not long ago that one such collector – a young Hungarian folk/blues musician living in Transylvania 1,800 km from her London studio – had been inspired to compose a vibrant and moving melody in honour of the print.
Deborah says of the tribute: “How wonderful that was – millions of editions of the image have been sold, and one man with his guitar comes along and dedicates a song to it.”
It was the first time that anyone had applied a musical interpretation to one of her canvases – and there are few contemporary parallels, the best known being the Don McLean 1972 hit song Vincent written as a tribute to Van Gogh and his painting The Starry Night after the American singer read a biography of the Dutch artist.
Deborah happened to find the song celebrating her work on the internet, and the upshot was that she met the singer/songwriter from afar, Noris Schek, in London, which led to the two collaborating on a unique new combined music and visual art project.
Noris said: “Deborah Azzopardi’s art is global – I had the Sshh… on my wall, back in Transylvania. In 2011 I had written The Quiet Song inspired by the painting. I didn’t plan to write the song, it just came to me. It just happened: it was meant to happen!
“A couple of months before my wife Cristina and I came to live in London to find a wider audience for my music, the song was recorded and shared with the world on the internet, along with a short explanation telling people where my inspiration came from. A year passed and, in July 2013, I got an email. Deborah Azzopardi, the artist of ‘our’ beautiful Pop Art painting was writing to me, saying she had come across my song.
“How often do such things happen? Was it the accident of finding something extraordinary, or just one of life’s miracles? Take your pick, I go for the miracle,” said Noris.
“Deborah said she very much enjoyed listening to the song, and that she wanted to meet me. I had a concert in Kew Gardens, asked her if she would like to come, and that’s how we met. After that we became good friends.
“My newest composition is called Life Is a Miracle. I recently recorded it, Deborah heard it, and the next thing I knew she was showing me her beautiful, new, larger-than-life painting, inspired by my composition. And she has named it Sometimes Unpredictable, a line found in the lyrics.” Continue reading