Fermata Festival Exhibition : photo credit Julia Morneweg

A Resource to Learn English and Art 

As part of our Artist Talk series of blogs, we are discussing the Fermata Festival.

Fermenta is a music festival & art exhibition by ChamberMusicBox. 

Fermenta presented 100+ artworks produced by more than 40 classical musicians during British Lockdown (a time when musicians were unable to perform live to the public).

In this blog, we discuss the extent to which music and art are transferable skills.

For English speakers looking to improve in English for Creative Careers, this blog is designed to learn English and art, as if an arts school English lesson. 

ELT English teachers and art schools, please do share with your students. 

Read on for a practice question in English at the end. 


Fermata was a celebration of creativity, of regaining live performance and of healing. 

Fermata Festival artworks  for  Learn English With Art Language School

Fermata: a pause of unspecified length on a note or rest.

Do Artists Make Good Musicians? Or Musicians Good Artists?

I’m always fascinated by the intersection of art and music – particularly each discipline’s rules and limits.

In my own visual art practice, I’ve worked with musicians and music scores, records and turntables and been a touring member of an experimental music label (Diskono).

Future Sonic, Manchester

One Future Sonic Music Festival event at the Corn Exchange in Manchester (1999) found me leaning over the balcony, the playing arm of the record-player way below me on a long length of thread. My puppetmaster gestures were adding noises to the performance happening on stage.

To my surprise, my contribution was taken quite seriously and there was real tension in the room. A violinist told me afterwards that she’d loved it. When I later saw her perform – she was amazingly skilled. I was baffled by what she had found to admire in my own attempt at sound sculpture/performance.

I’m not a musician.

Was it possible that as a trained visual artist I had something of worth to contribute to music?

More lately I’ve thought not, as there’s so much practice and training that goes into making music.

(As I get older, I’m frankly astonished that I ever had the brass neck to do such a thing).

The Fermata Festival is giving me grounds to reconsider.

If musicians can make artwork with skill, perhaps it works both ways.


Fermenta | Musicians Become Artists

What a concept!

It’s a curious experiment in art, and it’s a creative solution to an important problem (no creative outlet for musicians). 

Our pandemic has created epic problems alongside crushing mundanity. Positive, proactive solutions are what will heal us.

Like music, visual art also has the requirements for training, skills and practice and rules to be understood before they can be broken. Yet, as we will discover here, it also turns out that musicians can be very good at visual art. (And if sales are a measure of success, then successful too).

Fermata Festival artworks  for  Learn English With Art Language School
Screenshot, artworks on the  Fermata Festival Online Gallery

About the ChamberMusicBox Collective

“ChamberMusicBox was founded in 2016 when a group of leading international musicians came together from across Europe to perform a series of chamber music concerts in London.

Its Artistic Directors, violinist Yuri Kalnits and cellist Julia Morneweg, had a vision to promote mutual respect and empathy in the community through music-making of rare passion and generosity, and for audiences to be part of that shared experience.

 With countless appearances on the big international stages, dozens of prizes at some of the world’s most prestigious competitions, this ever-growing community of outstanding European musicians thrives on creating projects and concert programmes as diverse as they are unique.”


ChamberMusicBox website, 2021

Fermata Festival artworks  for  Learn English With Art Language School

When The Music Paused

Fermata Festival was timed with the reopening of performance venues in England after months of closure due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Running from June 25th- 28th, it was a weekend-long celebration of music and visual art, featuring four live concerts by internationally renowned artists which accompanied the exhibition of artworks created by classical musicians during the Covid-19 pandemic ‘fermata’  (more commonly known here as lockdown).

The exhibition was curated by gallery owner Alan Kluckow (Alan Kluckow Fine Art & Amadè Classical)  a consultant/expert of both contemporary art and contemporary and classical music.

Fermata Festival was a part of the 2021 Kensington and Chelsea Art Week.

The event opened with a pre-concert panel discussion and Q&A, with Alan Kluckow and exhibition artists Ruth Waterman, Caroline Bordignon and Simon Baggs.

It was chaired by pianist and painter Roger Vignoles.



All the work in this exhibition was for sale.  After the exhibition costs, all the money went directly to the artist musicians.

A total of £7000 was raised.


One Hundred Days of Painting Music | The Festival’s Inspiration 


Julia told Blue Noun Language Hub that the festival’s inspiration is Kirsty Matheson:  a double-bassist from Glasgow who, back in February started a project called “100 Days of Music as Art”.

For 100 days Kirsty would pick a piece of music and paint her interpretation of it.

She would reveal the result at 8 pm every night on Instagram.

It began as a way to get through lockdown, but it quickly snowballed and there was soon a scramble every evening by her followers and fans to buy that day’s artwork.

(We could say they sold like hotcakes).

Kirsty Matheson | Instagram

“February 1st 2021 I began an ambitious project to paint a painting every day based on a different piece of music. As a musician this concept has fascinated me for a long time. Back in High School, when I was contemplating a career in music or art, I painted a large painting of a Debussy piano piece a friend played in a concert. When the pandemic hit and I lost all my freelance playing work and concerts fell silent, I found listening to orchestral music too painful to bear. This project has helped me back to listening and loving all this music. I have heard from others that it has done the same for them. This means so much.”


Kirsty Matheson, on her personal website (link below).

Fermata Festival artworks  for  Learn English With Art Language School
On Kirsty Matheson’s Instagram, you can see her paintings set to the music which inspired them. 

It is remarkable that the painting styles are so very different from each other.

Outside of notions like skill, judgement and perfectionism, I’m not sure their musical skill brings tangible qualities but I admire the dreamy quality many of the artworks have. 

Learn English and Art | Practice Exercise

This list is taken from a very good page of descriptive vocabulary words and terms about music, written for English language learners – found here.

Which ones do you think can also be applied to painting?

adjectives for music Learn English With Art Language School

Further Reading:

You can find the ChamberMusicBox website here.

The Fermata Festival online gallery is here.

Kirsty Matheson’s 100 Days of Music as Art is here.

ChamberMusicBox is currently organising a second Fermata Festival,  to take place in Glasgow.

Make sure you sign up to their mailing list to find out more.

Learn English for Art | Thank You

Thank you Julia Morneweg for your permission and help writing this blog.

We cover a broad range of topics in our language school blogs – some a lighthearted look at Scotland, others an in-depth look at art and culture. 

If you’ve liked this blog, you might want to read another with a Learn English and Art theme.

Artist and musician, Johanna McWeeney (one of the selected Fermata artists) discusses the common ground between words and images within her art practice.

Creatives Talk Shop | Commonalities Between Words & Image



Your Blue Noun English Language Challenge is:


What adjectives can be used to describe both art and music?

Let’s collect them all here in the Blue Noun blog comments. Use them in a sentence if you would like, and add CP (correct please and we’ll correct any language errors in them. 

What adjectives could be used to describe art and music?