On the Trail of the Snail was first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 11th December 2010.
This collaborative edition of Between the Ears explores radio’s capacity for re-presenting art. It evokes through sound the primary colours, elemental spiralling shape and gastropodic allusions of an image that’s at once playful and melancholy. Late in his life, ill-health forced Matisse to work with a new technique, directing assistants to arrange coloured paper cut-outs on his studio wall –
‘The Snail’ of 1953 is the most celebrated example of this period. The ‘On the Trail of the Snail’ audio collage consists of:
Chris Brookes (Canada) – ‘The Snail in the White House’ (with reference to The Orlons’ 1962 hit ‘The Wah-Watusi’ and Alma Thomas’ homage to Matisse, ‘Watusi’)
Dinah Bird (UK) – ‘Helix’ (« The spiral is a spiritual circle. In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free. » Vladimir Nabakov)
Sherre DeLys (Australia) – ‘Chromatic Composition’. (Sherre and sculptor Joan Grounds reflect on Matisse’s use of colour as they walk through a north American woodland.)
Pejk Malinovski (USA) – ‘A Snail is a Snail is a Snail’, featuring the voices of Gertrude Stein and biologist Ronald Chase.
Kari Hesthamar (Norway) – ‘Tramp’ (« The first step in any trip or journey is always a footstep – the brave or curious act of putting one foot in front of the other. » The Norwegian author Tomas Espedal walks « to collect stories and to survive ».)