Baron’s Haugh is an urban reserve, squeezed between Motherwell and the M74, with man-made noises all around. However in the summer, the reserve is also awash with birdsong, from the melodious blackbird, to the scratchy blackcap. The sound of the River Clyde is never far away, and splashes from the flooded haugh might signal the presence of an otter.
Now, a new project is seeking to harness this unique sound environment and encourage visitors to experience the reserve in a new way. Sounding the Landscape is a collaborative project between RSPB Scotland and three artists and PhD students from University of Glasgow and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The work will culminate in an evening event at Baron’s Haugh at the end of the summer.
The artists, who are all currently studying sound and audio-visual art, are: Calum Scott, Lisa Robertson and Alessio Wagner. Through the project, they will produce new work that will draw from sounds heard at Baron’s Haugh, and which will look at new ways for people to connect with the natural environment there. The works will include sculpture, performance and digital experiments, as well as a guided walk.
Calum creates sculptures which often respond to a location or a specific history and themselves create sound. He calls this process ‘creative media archaeology’ and seeks to explore aspects of the historical through a creative reengagement with objects.
Calum was first drawn to the sounds of the reserve such as “the drone of the nearby motorway, ducks calling on the Haugh, children shouting, a blackbird singing in the wood, a squirrel rustling through leaves, an airplane passing overhead, dogs barking, a distant chainsaw, and babbling water in the burn.” He also noticed the Listening Cave, which is situated on the Dalzell Estate adjacent to the reserve, Calum will respond to this structure which was built in 1765 and its history as a device used to amplify the nearby waterfall.
Lisa’s practice involves the use of original violin compositions which will make connections between nature and human folk culture. She is also particularly interested in creating structures involving the deterioration of musical material which represent the deterioration caused by environmental issues.
For this project, she will compose a solo piece for the violin which she will be performed on the reserve during the event. It will mirror sounds from the environment such as imitations of many of the bird calls as well as other natural ambient sounds. She is interested in referencing and promoting the dawn chorus as a listening phenomenon.
Alessio creates sonic artworks where biological patterns, such as patterns in growth and development, the positions of fronds on a fern, or the growth rings of a shell are expressed in sound. His pieces reference these natural patterns that have a basis in mathematical algorithms such as the Fibonacci, L-system and chaotic patterns.
Alessio will develop an immersive sonic artwork as an artistic response to the Barons Haugh nature reserve. The piece will invoke the influence of biological patterns within the reserve, the reserve’s general sonorities and the influence of the urban on the reserve. This piece will be presented at an event in July 2019 hosted by Sound Thought (http://www.soundthought.co.uk/): the Glasgow-based festival of music and sound research, composition, and performance.
You can find out more about the artists on their websites:
Join us for a one-off opportunity to hear the reserve through new ears. The guided walk taking in the work of Lisa Robertson and Calum Scott aims to engage visitors in the sound-world of the reserve.
Starting from the reserve car park RSPB staff will lead a 90-minute walk through the reserve focussing on birdsong and stopping to experience the work of the two artists on the way.
3km long on good paths taking in woodland, grasslands, wetlands and river habitats where we should see (and hear) a really good variety of birds.
Wear sturdy footwear and come prepared for the weather. If you have mobility issues please call to discuss as we may be able to offer a shortened option.
The event costs £10 per person. Spaces are limited and booking essential. More details to follow including the specific date and time.
Please call RSPB on 0141 331 0993 to book.
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