Stolen Things

Stolen Things installed at Ripon Courthouse Museum

Stolen Things

Eight channel sound installation, 12 mins, 2019.

A work commissioned for a historic courthouse space, focussing on the ‘voice’ of 14 year old Ann Lupton – a defendant accused of shoplifting in 1853 – the voices of her two co-defendants, and the disruptive shouting of the courtroom public gallery. Ann speaks and sings her daydreams amidst a musical collision between shiny pop melodies and rowdy crowd chants (like AG Cook clashed with Men’s Choir Shouters of Finland). Her hymn singing, shoplifting spirit is contrived out of the stolen fragments of this work’s numerous sources (which include a Taylor Swift chord progression, a newspaper court report, a Jean Genet novel, the childhood memories of local people and a Victorian hymn), and Ann seems all too aware of herself as a construct summoned into our world through these ‘lying words’. As if in revenge for this realisation, she celebrates the idea of badness – and contemporary pop phrasings – as revolt and liberation, and her story ends in a disorderly evocation of some liberatory mischief involving a malfunctioning bellows organ. Thanks to Moira Smith, Kath Beeken, Neive Zenner, Amelia Andrews and Highside Singers. Commissioned by Ripon Museums Trust.

A stereo remixed version of the work, Stolen Things (The Creeping Things Remix), is released as a single on Owd Scrat Records.

“Last heard from Rooney himself with his Futile Exorcise record, which was likewise an attempt to give voice to lost and forgotten souls (dead ones, in that case), so this collaboration with Creeping Things is evidently in keeping. An ingenious construct…” Ed Pinsent (The Sound Projector blog). 23/9/2020 review of the remixed version.

“If you are, like me, somebody who listens avidly to the Festive Fifty… It was a shame that Paul Rooney’s track [Stolen Things] only made it to number 2, another cracker from him…” Pete Jackson (Dandelion Radio). Feb. 2020 radio broadcast of the remixed version.

“A lot of you were amazed by the track that got into the Festive 51… Rooney remixed by The Creeping Things, and I got a load of feedback about how fantastic that music was…” Zaph Mann, In Memory of John Peel Show (KFFP Radio, Portland and podcast). 11/01/2020 radio broadcast of the remixed version.

“I love that, and I hope you did too, Stolen Things, new from Paul Rooney…” Stuart Maconie, Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone (BBC 6 Music). 5/1/2020 radio broadcast of the remixed version.

“That fantastic thing was Stolen Things (The Creeping Things Remix) by Paul Rooney.” Fenny, On the Wire (BBC Radio Lancashire). 20/10/2019 radio broadcast of the remixed version.

“… very highly crafted and beautifully done, and really challenging.” Roger Hill, The Popular Music Show (BBC Radio Merseyside). 23/09/2019 radio broadcast of the remixed version.

“It’s far too out there for any measurable commercial success, but, make no mistake, this is a fucking masterpiece.” Gavin Hellyer (Bandcamp website). Sept. 2019 review of the remixed version.

“Propelled by a youthful joyfulness, it sounds as though there’s a joyous energy in resisting authority and oppressive power structures.  But then, as quickly as it began, something breaks.  Its teenage energy runs out, …like a child’s broken toy that can only sustain its exuberance for so long.  “I don’t actually believe these stories”, croaks a young voice. It’s a genuinely poignant ending to a work which could only exist in such a brutally, painfully nostalgic setting.” Tessa Norton (The Wire magazine), May 2019 review of the work.

Stolen Things launch season (Harrogate Advertiser). 8/2/2019 article referencing the work.

Finola Fitzpatrick (Harrogate Advertiser). 11/2/2019 article about the work.

Katie Allen (Heritage Fund website). 2019 interview with Paul Rooney about the work.