Australian Sound Artist

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 3. Sounds from the past cont'd - Brinkburn Priory and Holystone

:: Stunned Gold Crest at Brinkburn Priory ::
Thursday morning (30th) I was bitten by the recording bug - namely - the one that reminds you of just how fleeting your time is - in the area of the world you wish to record. I approach Chris in the morning and request we break our plans to spend the day in-studio - to hit the road and continue gathering sounds (along with lessons in history). Chris is out the door before I am.

"Great! Weather's good, let's go!"

I grab my pack and run to catch-up. No time to check I have everything - it's dark by 5 and daylight hours are burning. 

The first stop is at Brinkburn Priory. Luck is with us as we happen to be visiting on the last day before they close for Winter. Again - the weather is windy and a tad gloomy - perfect in that it keeps crowds of visitors away and creates a feeling of privacy and even intimacy between yourself and the environment. First recording is the wind amongst the Birch trees  - the most detailed yet. They quietly crack and whisper amongst themselves. En masse, they're louder than most to the point that I don't hear Chris when he calls for me to, 'come see!' The Priory's warden is standing at the bottom of the drive, holding a tiny bird in her hand. She's looking at it and it's looking straight back at her fearlessly - eye to eye. The bird was a, Gold Crest', the smallest bird in the UK and this little guy had flown into her reception window. She'd found him/her lying on the ground stunned - but alive. No wings were broken and after a few minutes - whereby he/she graced us with an impromptu photo shoot - he/she takes off into the trees. 

Chris points out the acoustics of the church - beautifully alive they enhance the qualities of sounds. I think of Noirlac - and ponder the question Chris poses, 'At such a time, when technology was so basic, how did they manage to design such buildings - that use highly sophisticated architecture to enhance the sounds through acoustics?' 

Good question..... No idea...... Wish I knew......

:: Trees at 'Lady's Well' ::
From Brinkburn we head North West - to Holystone and its, 'Lady's Well.' The journey from one to the other is filled with historical tales about the area - which like Lindefarne - has a lengthy and detailed past. From what I have read and what I have heard - there is a strong belief that the well was originally a pagan site and adopted by the Christian religion at a certain point in its history. On visiting the well there is an undeniable sense of 'communing with nature' that I don't associate with Christianity. The surrounding fir trees stand as pillars in a cathedral and silently command your reverence. While there are stone idols present, they were added in later centuries and consist of only two. The well as it originated - without these figures - would hold an as-sacred impression - one (even more) intrinsically connected to the nature as found there. 

I place a hydrophone pair into the well and an MS pair above ground at the head of the space, between two of the tree columns. Simultaneously they capture the world above and the world below the well's surface. Darkness falls quickly while we are there as does the volume of my voice. As I exit through the gate I am near whispering and find it hard to pull myself away. Who knows what occurs in such a space under the faceless guise of night.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.