Song (After Nature)
7.1 channel sound, object and text installation, 8 mins, 2022.
Seal calls and other natural sounds of the Holy Island landscape – recorded by legendary sound recordist Chris Watson – were transcribed into a richly layered cello composition created with cellist Gyða Valtýsdóttir. This immersive sound piece was installed within the Lindisfarne Castle ‘music room’ with accompanying objects, and a projected text that aimed to ‘translate’ the seal song as a playful yet grave warning of climate catastrophe. Thanks to Gyða Valtýsdóttir, Chris Watson, Laura Knowles, Nick Lewis, Kiki Claxton, Hannah Teasdale, James Lowther, Ellie Denton, Claire Ashby, Ian Kerr, Laura Gledhill, Julia Routh, C. Green, Noel Connor, Paul Mein, Lindisfarne Castle, Maltings Visual Arts Berwick, Newcastle University, Arts and Heritage and Arts Council England.
A stereo version of Song (After Nature) is released as a vinyl single on Owd Scrat Records.
“A field recording by Chris Watson triggered this wry and evocative project…” Julian Cowley (The Wire magazine). March 2023 review of the vinyl record.
“Seldom has so much work gone into something so short, but here the execution earns the attention… The end result: a feeling of sonic bonding. We have translated the seals’ cries into a third language; now what will happen when we play these notes back to them?” Richard Allen (A Closer Listen website). 1/2/2023 review of the vinyl record.
Susan Gray (Church Times). 24/10/2022 review of the work.
Steve Spithray (Narc magazine). 16/9/2022 preview of the work.
The Newsroom (The Chronicle). 1/9/2022 article referencing the work.
Nick Lewis (Sitezine). May 2022 article referencing the work.
Martin Phillips (The Mirror). 13/5/2022 article referencing the work.
Nick Jones (Artwork magazine). May-June 2022 article referencing the work.
Jiwon Kim (Blog Naver). 25/4/2022 photo blog referencing the work.
Simon Stephens (The Museums Association website). 1/4/2022 article referencing the work.
Nick Lewis (Sitezine). March 2022 article referencing the work.
“The songs of seals – or are they sirens luring sailors to their deaths? – haunt this fortress in a sound installation that exploits its seashore setting.” Jonathan Jones (The Guardian). 22/2/2022 preview of the work.
Tom Service, Music Matters (BBC Radio 3). 19/2/2022 radio feature on the work.
Ian Smith (The Northumberland Gazette). 4/2/2022 article referencing the work.
Credits: Gyða Valtýsdóttir (cello)
Chris Watson (source field recordings)
Johann Elias Ridinger (engravings)
Ian Kerr, Laura Gledhill, Julia Routh, C. Green, Noel Connor, Paul Mein, William Halliday, Edward Consitt, Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey (writing)
Homer (‘The Odyssey’, translations by A.T. Murray and Emily Wilson)
Elizabeth Woolridge Grant aka Lana Del Rey (‘Change’, ‘Mariners Apartment Complex’, song lyrics)
Cathy Dennis/Christian Karlsson (‘Toxic’, song lyrics)
Taylor Swift (‘Gorgeous’, song lyrics)
Beyoncé Knowles/Diana Gordon/Sean Rhoden (‘Sorry’, song lyrics)
All copyrighted excerpts from the above are used under fair dealing for the purpose of quotation.