Might and Main is a project exploring the mechanisms and celebrating the outputs of the artist-led – researching the importance of place and space to artistic production from Manchester city centre artist led studio and project space The Penthouse. The Might and Main project aims to pose questions such as what does our city mean to the production of art and to artist led initiatives and in return what do we mean to our city? What does the current climate of Manchester regeneration and changes in cultural landscape mean – what space is there available for artists. The format was a 2 week residency, open studio and symposium.
Statement on Works: For Might and Main, i explored the architecture and the socio-spatial situation of artist-led The Penthouse as a microcosm to explore the wider trends in urban regeneration and the place of the artist in the city. I used sound and sculpture as both medium and material to respond to the physical building structures and the relations between cities, urbanism and space. The three sound sculptures were inspired by the shape and form of the modernist buildings of Richard Seifert; architect of The Penthouse, brutalist materials of construction and reference Manchester’s industrial past through sound and archive. The sculptures include found items such as the red handles in ‘Key Cutter’ which were found whilst on a sound walk on Store Street, Ancoats. Coming across a barricaded industrial are, with shining placards advertising a new 5* luxury development; these handles were part of the contents of a skip containing the remains of a family key cutting business. The security guard revealed that this was the last business to hold out before the developers moved in.
The sounds encompass contact mic recordings of the air vents and doors on the roof top of The Penthouse, pulses generated by digital IC Chips, field recordings of a New Islington construction site in Ancoats visible from The Penthouse windows; and a composed industrial soundscape including fragments of spinning jennys, mill hooters and arkwright carding machines from the Greater Manchester Sound Archive.
As part of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art’s (CFCCA) ongoing Call and Response series of sound art events, CFCCA and HOME staged a one-off single-screen version of susan pui san lok’s multi-channel Trilogies installation, called Trilogies LIVE. Trilogies draws on fan uploads of various TV adaptations of martial arts epic novel series, The Condor Trilogy. I was commissioned to devise a live sound performance to accompany a 15 minute montage from ‘The Legend of the Condor’. The piece was performed at HOME and included live contact mic and sword/bow set up, martial art samples/loops and reworkings and compositions from the archive kung fu material.
Call & Response Film CFCCA
The Greater Manchester Sound Archive is the new collection of sounds at Archives+ , Central Library in Manchester. It is a rich sonic treasure trove charting the socio-political history of the city with oral histories, music and nature recordings to name but a few. I was asked to create a soundscape and work with the LGBT archive for the LGBT Voices live event at Manchester Central Library. The aim was to raise awareness of the archives by undertaking some outreach workshops, I ran a soundart project with young people at the Proud Trust where we used contact mics to unearth and record the hidden sounds of the youth centre. We also put out an open call for spoken word artists to respond to the LGBT oral history archives, these responses were performed live at the event. We also had a submission from Reform Radio who had created a podcast with their young trainees.
Over the past couple of months I have had the priviledge to listen to over 60 of the oral history archives. As well as learning so much about the history of gay rights in the city and lots of different LGBT narratives and topics including Polari, Section 28, how Manchester City Council was the first to invest in a gay centre for it citizens and political perspectives on spaces for subcultures to exist.
I was interested in the ‘sounds of recording’, the pops, clicks and false starts that happen when conducting oral history interviews. These small incidental moments were of interest sonically as I constructed loops and rhythmic patterns out of these. As well as referencing the oral history archives I wanted to showcase some of the wider sounds in the archives that I was particularly drawn to.
The Jodrell Bank space tapes were really exciting, I was able to digitise these from tape cassette so I could work with the material. These included sounds from the sputnik satellite, moon echoes and an interesting lecture called ‘The centre of immensities’. Other textures I worked with were the industrial mill sounds, orchestrating the sounds of an Arkwright machine, spinning jenny, mill hooter on a drum pad, creating beats from the machinery of Manchester’s past. The Paul Graney archive was also fascinating and I sampled some of his world music recordings from his catalogue of radio show archives.
I look forward to using more archive sounds as a source of musical inspiration, the act of sampling, manipulating and creating something new out of the historical material and combining this with new field recordings was truely special. It;s got me thinking of a new musique concrete performance I might like to try with old formats at the library.
Thanks to Dave Govier at Archives+ for all his support, knowledge and enthusiasm whilst working on the project.
This instrument is an exploration of combining everyday objects, electronics and contact microphones. The objects used are wooden rulers, a zip, pencils and springs, drawing pins and speakers, jump leads, broken crockery, teapot, door tread, whisk, chain and old bits of mdf. Continue reading “Ode to Hugh Davies”
Noise Orchestra is a collective led by myself, Vicky Clarke and David Birchall. We use electronics, lights and turntables to turn images and objects into sounds. We are artists in residence at the National Media Museum with our project ‘Play The Collections’. I’ll be updating the blog with our findings and experiments, here is our Gallery interpretation video Continue reading “Noise Orchestra National Media Museum Residency”
Colour circles and Contact Mics on steel metal sculptures were part of this interactive sound installation for my final art foundation show. Continue reading “Steel Sculpture.Colour Circles”
Inspired by John Cage and Hans Arp and their chance operations approach to art making, I wanted to create a mixed media collage based on these principles that could be interpreted as a visual score. Continue reading “Chance Collage”
Playing synthesizers and providing visuals in Central Library at the final performance of the ECHOTRACE project. Really proud to have been a part of this project, working with the Owl Project at Withington library animating the spaces with noises. You can see my visuals ‘fragments rewind’ and a show reel of other arty imagery behind the performers.
Reading about acoustic radar and defunkt hearing instruments inspired me to create a 2015 hearing trumpet. This piece was 3d printed and is actually hollow all the way through, it is quite mini so is good to amplify small noises.
Using my sketchbook to document forms and shapes on my recent research trips to the National Media Museum and the Communications Gallery at MOSI has become a means to generate sculpural ideas in metal. The forms on this piece are all taken from objects to do with transmission and broadcasting which I made into paper stencils so I could rearrange and test out the interplay of the shapes and how they might balance. I’m also thinking of these in sheet metal and how these would sound on impact.