Nat Grant is a composer and sound artist interested in the experience of memory, in oral histories, and the ability of art to share stories and connect people.
‘Prima Donna’ will be a series of sonic portraits of Australian artists, with a focus on women who were trailblazers: first in their field. Nat will capture interviews with older artists whose stories urgently need documenting: women who paved the way for artists like herself. The portraits will comprise sections of interview recordings collaged with Nat’s original compositions: telling these artists’ stories, in their own words. They will be both documentary and artwork.
The title of the podcast is significant: reclaiming a term (Prima Donna) that once meant “leading lady” and has been co-opted to silence women who are confident in themselves and their abilities.
The artists Nat seeks to portray are predominantly older artists. There is an imperative to create this work now, while they are still able to participate. Many of the artists she would wish to interview have already passed away.
This project will bridge the gap between oral history and artwork. Existing oral history collections are incredible resources but not widely publicised, often kept in library storage and not featuring prominently in library catalogues.
Nat is seeking support to purchase the necessary professional audio equipment to conduct the interviews and publish the podcast: wireless lapel microphones and receivers, hard disk recorder, studio headphones, audio cabling, hard drives, and other storage media.
Nat will conduct research around each subject to get a clear picture of their backgrounds, careers, and achievements. Once she has interviewed each artists she will pull the recordings apart and begin the process of digital collage and assemblage with the source recordings, and the composition of new music alongside this.
She will conduct two 2-hour interviews with ten subjects, listening to and editing the material in between. There will be 20 sessions over a period of five months. The final editing and podcast production will take a further six months to complete.
Visual artist Celeste Kinimmonth will create cover artwork for each episode. Celeste is a Victorian artist. Nat has chosen Celeste because her work interrogates feminine subservience, and explores identity and archetypes of femininity within the arts.
The complete portrait series will be published online: on iTunes, SoundCloud, Nat’s website, and other podcast platforms. It will be free to access.