Thursday, 24 August 2017

Singing The World: A Dawn Chorus at Cheeseburn

Singing The World

A Dawn Chorus at Cheeseburn
The Stables Gallery
26-28 August and 2-3rd September 2017

'Dawn Chorus, Cleadon Village' (detail), poem laser-printed onto beech wood, with the assistance of Fab Lab at Hope Street Exchange, Sunderland.

I have a new poem, ‘Dawn Chorus, Cleadon Village’, on display at Cheeseburn Grange Sculpture Gardens in Northumberland as part of Mike Collier’s exhibition, Singing The World.

The exhibition was inspired by listening to the dawn chorus at Cheeseburn—a choir of sixteen birds heard early one morning in May 2016. Together their songs, represented here variously as digitally-manipulated sonograms and musical transcriptions, form the basis of this show of screen prints, digital prints, relief sculpture and, in my case, poetry.

Lead artist Mike Collier’s work is shown alongside that of glass artist Ayako Tani; musician and composer Bennett Hogg; sound recordist Geoff Sample; and digital artist Andrew Richardson. The combination of sound and image, colour and light, form and freedom make Singing The World a really unique exploration into the dawn and evening choruses, which until I was asked to work on the project, I knew shockingly little about.

Mike Collier, The Dawn Chorus at Cheeseburn (2), produced in collaboration with Geoff Sample and EYELEVEL Creative, assisted by Tina Webb. The sixteen birds here are those Mike heard between 4.30 and 7.00am at Cheeseburn in May 2016. The circular images have been loosely adapted from Sample's sonograms and 'placed' on staves.

My poem captures the early-morning awareness of a burgeoning chorus of suburban village birdsong, transgressing the binary, reductive boundaries between nature and culture. It is the first time I’ve had work on display in Cheeseburn, and I encourage you to go and see the show, if not for mine and the other artists’ work then for the fabulous aspect of the gallery within Cheeseburn Grange. Set amid acres of beautiful landscaped parkland and gardens, the exhibition takes place in the Stables Gallery, but there is also a Hayloft space and chapel of St. Francis Xavier. Ten miles west of Newcastle, near Stamfordham, I can’t think of anywhere quite like this in the region – so close to the city yet most definitely in the country – where striking contemporary art is being shown in innovative ways.

Mike Collier, The Dawn Chorus at Cheeseburn (4). This is a seven-layered screen print of the sixteen birdsongs from the dawn chorus.

Mike Collier, The Evening Chorus at Cheeseburn

Singing The World is on display as part of Cheeseburn’s two open weekends: this bank holiday in August (26-28th) and also on the 2nd and 3rd September. Entry is free with a suggested donation, and I’m told that delicious refreshments are also available at the Stables cafĂ©.

'Dawn Chorus, Cleadon Village', set on the wall of the Stables Gallery, Cheeseburn.

Ayako Tani, Pre-dawn Light. Borosilicate glass, heat-shrunk tubes, steel and a lighting unit. The opportunity to show work in the darkness of the Hayloft at Cheeseburn presented the artists with a unique opportunity to represent the transition from night to day, moving from darkness to light. Ayako's glass chandelier of birdsong signals the dawning of a new day.

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