Thursday, 22 July 2010

Signing off ... for now...

It has been a most enjoyable month sharing the treasures of the North West Sound Archives. I am signing off for now, but hope to continue the work. Check my news updates for developments.

To finish a few favourite quotes from the meetings I have had along the way:

'If you don't know where you are coming from, you don't know where you are or where you are going.'

'If I'm stressed I bake, if I'm happy I bake, if I'm just ordinary... I bake.'

'You can't beat your memories.'

Extracts from 'A Feelin That is Felt...'

Here are a couple of extracts from the installation 'A Feelin That is Felt Way Down Inside Thee'
Jonny O'Sailor Rounds by NWSAproject
Drowned in a Pot of Jam Mix by NWSAproject

Feelins That are Felt....

Emerging once more after being off in Rossendale teaching an intensive course at Horse and Bamboo Theatre. The Saturday 10th of July installation was a great success at Clitheroe Castle. I estimated about 450 people came through and heard the sounds of my piece echoing over to Pendle hill...

As I was aware of the siting we had chosen well in advance I chose to use archive recordings of play songs for much of the raw material. This was, in my opinion, very successful artistically, fusing sound and space.

It was wonderful to see children jumping to the play songs. One member of the public suggested that next time skipping ropes and a ball be put out with the piece. Not a bad idea… Children stopped transfixed following the stereo panning in the space. In the section about food the repetition of Rose Nutall’s talk about humbugs got several laughs. This is the first time a sound installation of mine has got people laughing out loud.

I have been assessing the whole project, well over 600 people were directly contacted during the course of the month, there were also over 600 listens to material from the North West Sound Archives, including over 150 online.

I hope I have shown that there can be a variety of ways of utilising this extraordinary resource, it is an historical document, but it is also a source of inspiration, humour, stories, mystery, joy and reflection.

Friday, 9 July 2010

A Feelin That is Felt Way Down Inside Thee

Just emerging from a couple of days finalising the installation piece for Saturday outside Clitheroe Castle Museum. It is now half eleven at night on Friday and I have just finished fiddling around with formats! So excuse me if I don't write too much about it now other than it will be happening outside the museum between 11 and 5 on Saturday the 10th.

The title is a quote from Albert Hill's recording about Christmas 1928, which has been haunting me throughout the month.

I will look forward to seeing people I have met along the way, and writing a bit more about the piece.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Clitheroe Country Market

Earlier today I returned to the Clitheroe Country (formerly WI) market in the United Reform Church Hall. Acting on advice from last week I got there in good time ready to snap up the best things. This weeks purchases: lettuce, a courgette, potato cakes and a strawberry tart. Everyone is poised ready to spring in to action at 10 o'clock sharp. Again the atmosphere was friendly and bustling, beautiful vibrant jams and pickles on display, crafts and plants.

Following up the food theme I have been exploring in the archives I chatted to people about the work of the archives, and gathered some responses and memories. In this clip Flossie explains the background to the market, and what you can find:

Clitheroe Country Market: background by NWSAproject

There are wonderful baked goods on sale, today's taster was Mary's ginger bread. I talked to her about baking. As she puts it 'If I'm stressed I bake, if I'm happy I bake and if I'm just ordinary... I bake.'

Reasons for Baking by NWSAproject

Louise Martin's house

Still playing catch up with the blog here!

Monday morning saw me walking up out of Clitheroe the couple miles it takes to get to Chatburn. Perhaps I was still full of Sunday's walking experience. Anyway, the point was to meet local poet Louise Martin. I met a friend of Louise in Clitheroe music shop whilst out telling people about the archives and the project. He said she would be interesting to meet and record, and so it proved.

We had a lovely morning with me playing some of the clips of Albert Hill (you can hear them on soundcloud ) as a starting point for discussion, reminiscence and a stimulus for Louise to chose some of her poetry to record. We covered the phenomenon of the obligatory uneaten nuts at Christmas, the people who have inspired her writing, the chain of passing on games in schools that have been going for decades... amongst other things. There was much laughter too!

Louise's poetry has a real directness and interestingly reflects many of the themes that have been coming up in my work with the archives- local food, memory, how life has changed even within the life of a generation, and how wonderful rich and varied stories of everyday life can be.

Here is a recording of her poem 'Blackberry', on the face of it an account of blackberry picking, but a lot is simmering just beneath the surface.

Louise Martin: Blackberry by NWSAproject

Monday, 5 July 2010

A full few days...

It has been a full weekend of activity at the NWSA project. Last Saturday saw me at the Atrium cafe at the Castle Museum with a set of food and drink based clips. It was very nice to be joined by Andrew from the archives. It was a bit of a slower day than last weekend. Is everyone recovering from the World Cup ?!

Still the clips provided the starting point for some very interesting responses, discussions and memories. One gentleman from Wigan talked to Andrew and I about dialect and how accents are tending to become homogonised. Andrew mentioned that at one time even which side of the Ribble you were made a distinct difference in accent. It is of course the nature of language that it changes, perhaps now more quickly than ever, yet I think the archives have a valuable role in preserving spoken heritage.

One woman reminisced about working in a mill, and showed me no fewer than 2 scars on her face from seperate injuries. Her husband couldn't help chipping in, 'That one got me us a greenhouse' ....

Once again it is good to make people aware of the archives as a resource, and the value of history and memory in general.

Sunday saw me linking up with people from the community organisation Transition Town Clitheroe. They are a very interesting and active group looking for ways to make the future of Clitheroe sustainable. The occasion was joining Steph Bradley on her 6 month walk across the UK on a mission to collect stories from community groups on the subject of transition. We met up with her in Waddington and walked down to Clitheroe via back roads and past allotments. It proved to be a beautiful evening, if a bit windy, as we approached the town with the castle coming in to view.

As one of the primary focusses of Steph and the group's interests is local food, we had an interesting discussion about how the archives could be a useful resource in 'reskilling' people in a move back to more local food production. I recorded some of the walk and a talk with Steph to put back in the archive, so the links continue from the past, to the present with what I am doing now and in to the future.