Inspired by our iconic Finback Whale, the Museum of Zoology ran a series of workshops collecting voices from Cambridge and beyond to create a soundtrack for this amazing skeleton in the newly built Whale Hall of the Museum of Zoology. With the help of choir leader Rowena Whitehead and Jo Shaw and Tizzy Faller from the Department of Music, we reached out to over 1000 people in schools, museums and other spaces. Chris Watson, award-winning wildlife sound recorder and sound artist, has combined these with his recordings of the world’s oceans into a magical, atmospheric journey around the world. Here is the finished piece, which you can hear in the Whale Hall from late 2017.
Installations & Performances
Friday 20 January
18.00 – 21.00
Inspired by Picasso’s circle in Montmartre in the first decade of the 20th century, the Gallery becomes an artists’ colony featuring a wild cross-pollination of ideas, music, poetry, performance, art, film and dance. For one evening only, step inside the mind of Picasso where Everything You Can Imagine is Real…
Curated and Produced by Martyn Ware for Illustrious.
Zarina Bhimji, Georgina Brett, Peter Coyle, Eclectic Method, Vanessa Fenton, Feral Five, Sarah Hopkins, Aaron Horn, IN-IS, Marcus Lyon, Di Mainstone, Tracey Moberly, Nikky Norton-Shafau, Obsrvtry, Radiophonic Workshop, Ian Reddington, Cherub Sanson, Scanner, John Shuttleworth, The Spinning Yarns, Chris Sullivan, Toby Thompson, Gabriel Ware, Martyn Ware, Chris Watson,Tim Wheater, White Noise, Luke Wright
Download programme here
Supported by Goldman Sachs
Soundscape system and headphones by Bowers & Wilkins
Part of the programme of events complementing Picasso Portraits.
A Night conducted by Cédric Villani
With Chris Watson, Martin Hertau (TARA)…
Following the Bat Night in 2014 and the Night of Honey in 2015, the Nights of Uncertainty program continues its exploration of the natural world together with Cédric Villani.
English musician Chris Watson is one of the leading figure of field recording today. Throughout the evening, he takes the audience on a journey, listening to the winds of the Earth, from the North Polar Zone to Antarctica, through the plains of Tanzania, the coasts of Thailand or the Scottish Highlands. Cédric Villani discusses with Martin Hertau, captain of Tara schooner, thanks to a live connexion from its anchorage near Maupihaa atoll, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in order to speak about sailing with winds.
Through the various contributions, as well as screenings and readings, Cédric Villani, a mathematician with an infinite curiosity, explores one of the first sound phenomena appeared on Earth and brings to it his own scientific and poetic perspective.
Monday, September 5th at 8 pm
Imaginary Journeys to the Elephants’ Graveyard
With Carlos Casas, Chris Watson & Joyce Poole
Walk through the exhibition spaces and in the garden (screening, installations, conference, concert)
Duration: approx. 1h15
Carlos Casas’ movies are at the crossroad of documentaries, fictions, visual and sound arts. For this Nomadic Night, the Catalan filmmaker has chosen to bring the audience inside the making of his next film entitled Cemetery, a visual and aural experience inspired by the mythical elephants’ graveyard. At once an action movie, an experimental film and a science-fictional documentary, Cemetery is a sort of initiatory trip, an acoustic Noah’s arc paying equal tribute to Tarzan and to La Région Centrale by Michael Snow.
During this Nomadic Night, conceived as an exclusive insight into this project, spectators will engage in a quest for aural and visual remnants of the mythical graveyard using photographs, drawings and research documents pertaining to the film. The event will be punctuated by a conference on the language of elephants and by a concert inspired by the film’s soundscape.
With the exclusive participation of Chris Watson during one concert – founding member of the post-Punk band Cabaret Voltaire in the 1970’s, sound recorder for “Life” the BBC documentary series by Sir David Attenborough, he is one of the main figures of field recording today.
With the intervention of Joyce Poole, researcher specialized into the social and cognitive behavior of elephants and cofounder of the NGO “Elephant Voices”.
No assigned seats.
Compass is a brand new sound installation from world renowned wildlife recordist Chris Watson and acclaimed Northumbrian poet Linda France. Specially commissioned by Cheeseburn, and located in four different places around the grounds, visitors are invited to listen to a lightly orchestrated soundscape of birdsong, wildlife, weather and original poems – each composed to the specific setting, the time of day and the season.
Chris Watson and Linda France visited Cheeseburn frequently over one year to create this exciting new installation, where a world riven with migration and change finds a compass in the sense of soon itself, the poetry of everyday listening. Visit the Formal Garden, The Courtyard, The Potting Shed and the Stable Loft to experience Compass this August Bank Holiday weekend.
Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan
‘The Great Circle’ is an Ambisonic sound installation taking the audience on a journey from Northumberland to Aichi overland via a Great Circle route.
24 February 2016, 19.00
The Little Museum of Dublin
15 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
An evening with Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading recorders of natural phenomena. The evening begins at 7pm with a Santa Rita wine reception and pre-concert interview with the performer. The performance begins at 8pm sharp. Tickets €13 pre-booked; €15 on the door.
July 30th – August 2nd, 2015
St. Germans, Cornwall
Chris Watson will be presenting ‘Dusk ’till Dawn’ in the Round Room 1000h-1100h Saturday and Sunday. Sunday at 1630h he will be presenting ‘Caught By The River Coquet’ with John Andrews at the Caught By The River marquee.
Chris Watson & Tim Shaw
Tuning In – Listening Back in Time is a reconstruction of time distant voices and personal accounts of events on Tyneside during the First World War. The work will be presented using period audio technology in a science and technology basement store…
The Dawn Chorus installation will be live from Thursday 25 September until early January at the Foundling Museum.
Renowned wildlife sound recordist and 2014 Handel Fellow Chris Watson, and young care-leavers from London, recorded the sounds of the dawn chorus on the site of the original Foundling Hospital. Inspired by the genetic link today’s birds have with those that sang here for the eighteenth and nineteenth century foundlings, Watson’s installation links past and present through a poetic meditation on the spirit of place.
This piece was recorded in the green and residential areas that surround the Foundling Museum. Watson and his young team recorded throughout the night, ending the session on Sunday 4 May, International Dawn Chorus Day.
A new age of surround sound: spatial audio at the frontiers of contemporary art, technology and science
Professor Tony Myatt – Inaugural Lecture with special guest performer, Chris Watson
Prof Tony Myatt presents a lecture, illustrated with spatial audio demonstrations, about the concepts, art and practice of contemporary spatial audio. Tony will discuss loudspeaker technologies, recording, live performances and presentations, in the context of contemporary audio practice and will illustrate his unique methods of perceptually informed sound spatialisation, based on the creation of information-rich sound environments.
Following the lecture, Tony will be joined by one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena, Chris Watson, to present a post-lecture, live, multi-spatial surround sound performance.
“To close your eyes was to lose yourself in a virtual environment of birds, church bells, foxes, distant road traffic and the ever present aural horizon of the sea.” (The Guardian)
24 – 26 October 2014
Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland
“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.” The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher
Hrafn: Conversations with Odin is a sound installation that presents the remarkable and seldom-heard phenomenon of ravens gathering to roost.
Set in Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland, the audience will be led at twilight on a short walk into the deepest part of the forest. Along the way their guides share ancient raven lore, the natural history of a talismanic creature, and the beginnings – and the future – of the forest they have entered. Participants settle down in the deepest part of the wood, and as darkness falls, they will hear the sounds of two thousand birds arriving in the canopy overhead to begin their conversations.
Hrafn: Conversations with Odin is composed by Chris Watson and produced by Iain Pate. It is commissioned through Jerwood Open Forest, a partnership between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Forestry Commission England.
10.30–18.00 20 September
National Maritime MuseumGround floorLecture Theatre
Fee: £10 | £7: Members and concessions
Event type: Lectures & talks
A unique day-long event of celebration and investigation, in the company of award-winning writers, artists, film-makers and specialists in cetacean studies and conservation.
Navigating the fluctuating human relationship with one of the ocean’s most remarkable and threatened creatures, Philip Hoare (Leviathan, The Sea Inside), sound-recordist and composer Chris Watson (Life, Frozen Planet), former whaler and Greenpeace activist John Burton, Mark Carnall (Grant Museum, UCL) and other leading scientists join acclaimed artist film-maker Jessica Sarah Rinland for a multi-faceted voyage into the extraordinary world of the whale.
Taking place in the week of the International Whaling Commission’s biennial global meeting, the event will consider the challenges facing current whale populations while also tracking their energising presence in literature, film and music.
Curated and presented by Jessica Sarah Rinland and Gareth Evans.
Image: detail of: ‘The Spermacaeti whale brought to Greenland Dock 1762’. Repro ID: PY3459. Copyright: NMM, Greenwich, London
Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt) and Chris Watson collaborating with producer Iain Pate have been awarded two major commissions totalling £60,000 through the inaugural Jerwood Open Forest initiative.
The announcement was made at Jerwood Space, London on 11 February 2014 by selector and artist, Tania Kovats. The selected proposals will be produced and realised within England’s Public Forest Estate, continuing a national conversation about how contemporary visual artists engage with the environment today.
To find out more about Jerwood Open Forest and follow the progress of the two winning commissions visit www.jerwoodopenforest.org.
The Foundling Museum has announced the appointment of the 2014 Foundling Fellows, joining the Fellowship in the 10th anniversary year of the Foundling Museum in London.
Artist Cornelia Parker, named as Hogarth Fellow
Poet Lemn Sissay, named as Coram Fellow
Musician and sound recordist Chris Watson, named as Handel Fellow
Each Fellow will undertake a project for the Museum with special relevance to children, inspired by the principles of philanthropy and creativity of the great founding figures of the original Foundling Hospital, Thomas Coram, William Hogarth, and George Frideric Handel.
Chris’s project celebrates International Dawn Chorus day on 4 May 2014 and will see Chris work with young people to record the dawn and evening chorus of birds, as well as other sounds, in the local area around the Museum. His idea is to compare the sounds of today with the sounds of the Foundling Hospital estate in the 18th Century and we hope to find out if the wild and urban sounds the foundlings heard in then are different to today. The work will be edited and turned into a sound piece. The final piece is intended to be played on radio stations, including Resonance FM, and will be exhibited in the Introductory Gallery at the Museum.
12:00 to 16:15, Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan’s College, Durham
The second inter-disciplinary seminar in the SLOW University series is organised in collaboration between: the School of Applied Social Sciences, the Ustinov Seminar Series and the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). The SLOW movement promotes a socio-cultural shift towards slowing down the pace of work, life and consumption and providing a counter narrative to processes of globalization. Chris Watson’s SLOW sound walks [in seminar one from palace Green to Ustinov College] enabled a slowing down and tuning in to the signature sounds of the spaces and places along the route.
It is clear that these lines of thinking, dialogue and creative application are gathering momentum. The purpose of the second seminar on the SLOW University at Durham [that will then travel to other collaborating Universities] is to harness these dialogues and ask – What does it mean if we take a look at the University and our relationship to as academics and researchers in relation to time, speed and SLOW? What new philosophies, practices, structures and governance might emerge?