19 July – 26 August 2019
(Fri – Sat, 10am – 4pm / Sun, 1pm – 4pm)
LLOWER.GREEN has invited Suffolk-based sound artist and composer Mira Calix to realise a newly-commissioned work as part of the Sacred and/or Secular series, led by HERILIGION, taking place at Hungate Medieval Art, Norwich.
Calix’s work, titled Sihlabelela, is an immersive sound-sculpture produced in collaboration with fifty contributors that links the church’s unique acoustics to the wider city and the world beyond. The work responds to two aspects of Hungate’s history. Firstly, the musicality of the medieval period – a period when English composers first started to engage with architectural acoustics; opening up architectural soundings to questions of space and place. Secondly, in 1965, when Hungate was operating as a museum, taped music was introduced, which aimed to represent to visitors a medieval sound world.
The project attempts to create an artwork by creating a community; a community that contributes to, maintains, and diffuses the sound-sculpture in both the physical and non-physical landscape. The title, Sihlabelela, is Zulu for ‘we sing’, and a personal reference to the large gatherings of the Nazareth Baptist Church communities who congregate in parks and open ground around Durban, South Africa where the artist grew up. Calix created a ‘permutation poem’ and asked both friends and strangers to sing a version – creating their own melody and tempo. Fifty voices were assembled by the artists on to 11 tape loops and one central twenty minute composition, which all play simultaneously on tape recorders in the space.
Calix is working with a core group of local participants and for the duration of the exhibition they will help expand and modulate the composition. The temporary community will take two of the tape recorders out into the city; one of the tape-recorders will play back the existing tape, and the other will re-record the tape – also capturing the acoustic space in which they have chosen to play it. This will both create a new version of the piece, and also help disseminate the voices of Sihlabelela beyond the exhibition space. The new compositions will be placed on the central plinth – if the machine is silent, you are invited to press play, and sign your name, thereby participating in the sustainability of the artwork as well as reshaping it. Each day of the exhibition will be sonically unique, constantly changing through the course of the exhibition.
“The work”, Calix explains, “is about communing and collaborating. Receiving these little songs into my inbox has been delightful, the intimacy of hearing the vulnerability of the lone singing voice has brought me much joy and I so appreciate the faith and trust people have put not only in me, but in the artwork itself. The willingness to contribute and be part of this temporary community is particularly heartening in our current, very much divisive political climate”
This project has been funded with the support of the European Union
Another dimension was added to Calix’s Sihlabelela when in collaboration when Australian radio station FBi asked Sydney sound artist Gail Priest, to contribute to the project Ears Have Ears. The programme aired on Thursday 15 August. We would like toacknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of the land and waters upon which the recording for the programme was done.
LOWER.GREEN was an art gallery at 28 Anglia Square, Norwich. It hosted 8 exhibitions, as well as talks and events, between July 2018 and March 2019. These exhibitions – a combination of solo and group presentations, contemporary and historical in perspective – each ran for a duration of three weeks in the gallery. The talks and events, as well as being hosted in the gallery, made use of the venues and buildingsthroughout the site.
At the beginning of this year, LOWER.GREEN was invited by the ‘HERILIGION’ project to work in partnership on their exhibition series ‘Sacred and/or Secular’ alongside the selected work of a Norwich University of the Arts Fine Art student, an exhibition of photographs of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust Festival Flintspiration and works by artist invited by OUTPOST gallery. www.lower.green
Hungate Medieval Art is a centre for medieval art located in Britain’s most complete medieval city – Norwich. Based at St. Peter Hungate, it exists to promote both the medieval art visible in the county of Norfolk and to encourage contemporary responses to medieval art. This fusion of the medieval and contemporary is one of their unique strengths.hungate.org.uk
HERILIGION is an international research project exploring the consequences of the heritagization of religious sites, objects and practices. The research is taking place at religious sites in Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the UK. The UK team, based at UEA, is exploring two case studies: the remarkable history of St Peter Hungate as church, museum and art centre, and the heritagization of Bury St Edmunds Abbey. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. www.heriligion.eu
The artist would like to thank the participants for the generous contributions – Norwich: Rose Baulcombe; Sue Bonvin & Andrew Eden; Bev Broadhead; Richard Fair; Catherine Gardener; Emily Gardiner; Nayeon Kang; Rachel Kurdynowska; Georgie Manly; Joseph Marks; Sophie Marritt; Michael Ridge; Alex Russell; Alex Sanders; Nicola Simpson; Emma Thompson; Cat Westwood and those who responded to the invitation to participate from around the globe: 9kasko9; Heather Akroyd; Laura Cannell; Lisa Jane Cassidy; Dominique Chamalin; Guénaël Chamalin; Laurent Chamalin; Sarah Dacey; daveddsss; Elizabeth de Winter; gaykatemoss; Jim Dunn; Ella Finer; Simon Fisher Turner; Steve Fothergil; Eloise Galway; Therese Galway; Emily Hall; Vince Hancock; Ed Handley; Roger Inglesworth; Adam Knowles; Alexia Menikou; Sarah Nicholls; Mount Sssa; Hannah Peel; Alberta Sessa; Sidneyland; Heloise Werner.