Public Record: Ipswich Museum

CoverMy new audio-poetry piece, done in collaboration with composer and sound artist Scanner, is now up and running – you can listen to it, or download it, from this page.

This latest piece in the Public Record series was created to be listened to in the Ogilvie Collection of British Birds at Ipswich Museum, the piece is presented by SPILL Festival of Performance, in partnership with Colchester + Ipswich Museums. It is a 17-minute long series of poems and music, with the poems inspired by or sampled from Victorian nature and travel writing, from the archival accession records of the Museum, and from the books and notes of Fergus Menteith Ogilvie, the man who built the collection. These texts are guided by classical-era Japanese haiku by the master poet Kobayashi Issa, whose work is infused with a twisting look at the natural world.

The music is entirely new composition and sound-design work by Scanner, which beautifully implies the birds, the landscapes and the seasons within the Collection and the poems, but without using any ‘natural’ sounds – a nod to the uncanny nature of the collection itself. For those who visit in person, there is also a gorgeous set of paper documents created by Stefan Musgrove and Firebrand Creative.

While the subject matter – the leaking of a landscape’s past into the present – is similar, this is a different kind of piece from the previous Public Record poems. It is more about patience and meditation, about breathing and being. It is inspired by the landscapes presented in the display vitrines of the Ogilvie collection – Suffolk landscapes that have vanished since these cases were made at the turn of the last century, making these displays uncanny; photocopies of photocopies of the landscape. But it is more about seasons and cycles, memory and loss, than about any particular events which occurred within them.

For more on the piece, check out Collecting Landscape: an essay.

 

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