2012: An Audio Guide to Varo’s ‘Harmony’

This is a work in progress. The first performance was at PULSE Fringe Festival on 25th May 2012, in the lovely New Wolsey Theatre. After that I did some editing and a bit of technical simplifying and performed it again at Norwich Arts Centre’s ‘New Performance’ event on 30th June. As part of my Arts Council England-funded development project I will perform another version in the Eastern region in the Autumn, and aim to perform it nationally by March 2013.

PULSE: 25th May 2012 (3 minute showreel version)

An Audio Guide to Varo’s Harmony from Holly Rumble on Vimeo.

Norwich Arts Centre, 30th June 2012 (full length performance)

An Audio Guide To Varo’s Harmony – Norwich Arts Centre from Holly Rumble on Vimeo.

The Junction, Cambridge, 13th October 2012 (9 minute extract performance)

‘Harmony’ extract at The Junction from Holly Rumble on Vimeo.


What does harmony actually sound like? Join artist Holly Rumble as she attempts to interpret the musical clues in Varo’s painting ‘Harmony’.

Remedios Varo was a Spanish-Mexican surrealist painter, who was interested in science, magic and alchemy. Her 1956 painting ‘Harmony’ shows a figure arranging objects on a musical stave, including shells, stones, diamonds, mathematical figures, and a turnip.

Holly Rumble will systematically investigate the musical potential of each of these objects, using live pseudo-scientific experimental techniques.

A work in development, originally devised as a performance lecture for the ‘Surreal Friends’ exhibition at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich. Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by Escalator Performing Arts.

More about Remedios Varo:

The painting is by Remedios Varo, who was born in Spain in 1908. She learnt technical drawing at an early age from her father, who was an engineer. She was schooled at a local convent, but her parents recognised her talent as an artist early on, and so she enrolled at the art academy in Madrid in 1924, (where she was a contemporary of Dali before he was expelled for insubordination).

She became involved with the Parisian Surrealists, and was forced to leave Spain when Franco came into power because of her associations with Communist artists. When the second world war broke out she eventually managed to flee to Casablanca and then to Mexico with the help of a New York-based committee whose aim was to rescue as many of Europe’s leading intellectuals and artists as possible.

After some time earning a living as a promotional illustrator for a pharmaceutical company she began painting again, and very soon had a critically acclaimed solo show.

This piece, ‘Harmony’ was painted in 1956. Like many of her paintings it depicts a scientist or alchemist, and is typical of her highly detailed style of painting. Common themes in her work include magic, science, mathematics and transformation.

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