All These Pretty Things
An exhibition inspired by the music, album and book by Tracey Yarad
Tracey Yarad is a Katoomba jazz pianist, singer and composer now living and performing in New York. All These Pretty Things, the music album and accompanying book of short stories written by Tracey, documents the traumatic yet ultimately empowering breakup of her marriage, her transformational journey to reclaim her dream of playing music in the Mecca of Jazz, and how a certain wedding dress came to be dyed black…
The music and spoken word performance of All These Pretty Things premiered at the Soapbox Gallery in Manhattan in July 2020, during Covid lockdown in New York, and its success inspired Tracey to extend the fusion of the musical and the literary to embrace a collaboration with the visual.
The exhibition All These Pretty Things is a series of works by visual artists, friends of Tracey’s, who she commissioned to illustrate each of her songs and stories.
The original image for the All These Pretty Things album and book cover was taken in winter in the middle of a snow-blown Manhattan street, with Tracey, arms akimbo, staring defiantly at the camera wearing a black wedding dress.
Still the Girl is the song and story of how the dress came to be black, and to illustrate it Tracey asked Chloe Cook-Williams, Katoomba circus performer, aerialist and visual artist. As a long-time friend and woman with Downs Syndrome, Chloe could identify with Tracey´s journey to autonomy. To create her artwork, Chloe began a collaboration with Deta C. Rayner, Berliner musician, visual artist and also friend to Tracey, to produce not one but many collages featuring the empowered heroines who had inspired Chloe’s own journey, from Josephine Baker to Cate Blanchett. Her collage of Tracey on that Manhattan street in that dress became a centrepiece of All These Pretty Things.
Tracey also commissioned Deta C. Rayner to illustrate the song/story You Never Bought Me Flowers. A native Berliner, Deta was in Australia in early 2020, on the road with Aussie husband Rob Rayner performing in their band The Beez. After Covid disrupted the tour in March, Tracey invited them to lock down in her Katoomba house as she was in New York. That generosity inspired another life-changing decision – for Deta and Rob to remain in Australia and make a new life in Katoomba. Tending to Tracey´s garden inspired Deta to create a beautiful series of works documenting the spring rebirth of the tulips she had planted in that uncertain autumn, which uncannily paralleled Tracey´s own musical renaissance in New York.
This exhibition celebrates not only Tracey’s personal and professional transformation, but the power of art and friendship to heal, connect, inspire and sustain in good times and bad.
Collages by Chloe Cook-Williams & Deta C. Rayner
Tracey in New York
This was our first work together - a commission from Tracey to create the artwork for her song and accompanying short story “Still the Girl” to be featured in Tracey´s book.
Chloe and I both had no idea how our collaboration was going to work out. Chloe is a creature of habit (well, she´s not Robinson Crusoe there) and was a little reluctant to embark on what was for us both an entirely new journey, but we both loved working together from the very first minute! We had absolutely no concept of what to do. What we did know is that we have a mutual passion for fashion, movies and amazing costumes…
Chloe particularly loves wedding dresses, so Tracey´s song about dying her wedding dress black was a particularly apt choice.
We both looked at lots of Chloe´s wedding magazines hoping for an idea, but the obvious solution was right under our collective noses the whole time - that photo of Tracey in her black wedding dress in the middle of a New York street.
A friend from Melbourne had coincidentally just sent Chloe a package with beautiful paper for scrapbooking and that´s how we were inspired to do a collage. We talked about all the things we could see in the photo, which was taken in winter. There was snow and so, of course, it must have been Christmas. In New York…so many of Chloe´s favourite movies had been shot there, so Chloe recreated the New York of her dreams - with our mutual friend Tracey in the starring role.