Francine Merry

Chorus director to Knitter

To have something to sit alone for three hours without any interruption was brilliant, you know, totally therapeutic and kind of mind-controlling, king of relaxing.

 

You’re doing one row, and then you do another row, and then  you do another row,  you don’t have any hurry.

 

You’re doing something constructive, but actually it reminded me a little bit of when I used to practice. You'd sit at the piano and you’d work out codes like you do in knitting, and then you put them all together  as a piece of music and you’ve learned it, so, it was weird because it was what I needed for the brain which is a logical brain, it needed the patterns.

Illustration and image, Carla Knight

Us musicians are recreations, unless we are composing. 

And actually to recreate can be quite destructive.

The Artist has the wonderful freedom of being able to alone, draw.

 

In music you're not, you're sitting in front of a score and you're interpreting it but you're not creating it.

A Reflection, Eloise Hope

Written in response to the interview with Francine

Francine's making space. Image, Carla Knight

I needed to get away from that music, I needed to find something new which I could be creative in, I loved it, I loved it, I mean I used to take it along to my friends and they said ‘Oh god Francine what are you doing this is so complicated!’ but they helped me.

 

What I really wanted to find was something to make me calm down, you know, I was full of a lot of tension, I’d been bullied at work, I was treated badly and dismissed.

That Dress, Francine. Image, Carla Knight

I’d say ‘Go and enjoy the opera but don’t ask me how it’s been’ because you know, for them it’s glamour, it’s wonderful and you know, Placido Domingo on stage and all these kind of, and then there was me going ‘Oh God, terrible, here we go again’ ‘Oh God he dropped a note!’

I still listen to a lot of music, this the other thing is you come out of a profession and you think of one of the think well I would like to have a listen to Boya or Tosca and it brings back all the memories you had. You think ‘Oh no turn it off I don't want to hear that again’.

Francine's journal, her way. Image, Carla Knight

Music always had that amazing hold on me. Sometimes you go to watch a show, you know, you prepared, you go there and then you watch and you go, this is why I'm doing music.

 

You know, there's a piece by Janacek called Jenufa, and it has this incredible scene of the mother and the daughter and the grandmother, everybody's in floods. 

 

There are glimpses of that wonderment and you can't take it away from me.

That is what I've had.

So when do you have a music director who bullies you, you think ‘what is this?’ and especially when it was all to do with my gender.

It's like a religion. And I listen to it, I kind of, you know, my family, I'm surrounded by vicars, my brother's a vicar, and all that kind of stuff and they kind of can't believe it because I'm an atheist, and they say, ‘Where do you get your religion? What's your spiritual feelings and your faith?’ 

 

And I say I get it from Bach.  I listen to it and I can feel there is, I don’t know if it’s God's presence, but it's something divine, and it’s, you know.

Francine's creation. Image, Carla Knight

I had a lot of opera buff friends, travelling the world, going to opera.

They loved me because I was in it.

I would play up with it for a bit,

 

But then when I left, they dropped me.

 

When I go to them and say,

 

‘Oh, I’m really enjoying myself, I’m doing a lot of knitting’,

 

 

They’re like 'What?!?’.

Full interviewFrancine
00:00 / 19:38

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