Instrument making is very much an extension of my art practice in sculpture. I learned to make stringed instruments at the same time I was learning the language of object making both of which are deeply rooted in traditional processes and material language.
The instruments that I create are all unique with no two alike. I begin the process with a drawing directly onto the prepared wooden blank, and cut out and shape the wood predominantly with hand tools. I do not use jigs or automation and find great satisfaction in the variation that is achieved from instrument to instrument. The materials that I use are all native to Jamaica where my practice is now permanently situated. Jamaica is a rich island in natural resources and is well know as the “land of wood and water.”
Chordophones from African and the Caribbean diaspora are central to the discourse that I work in, yet the instruments that I produce often incorporate industrial or “non traditional” materials such as plastics and found materials. I do not reproduce historical instruments yet am very sensitive to the histories and traditions from which they came. My instrument works are functional representations, investigating the balance of form and function.
Representations of early plantation banjos, Minstrel banjos and gourd fiddles are predominantly what I create for musicians, galleries, and museums on a commission basis. Working closely with musicians to produce an instrument that is specific to their own aesthetics and needs as a performer is a very fulfilling experience for me. I welcome new ideas and enjoy involving the client in my process. It is a collaborative experience that always results in an extremely rewarding adventure.
Please contact me at email@example.com to discuss an instrument that would suit your needs. I am always ready for a new direction and experience in creating a stringed instrument.
Sculptural work www.jeffmenzies.com