Susan Stenger, <em>Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland,</em> 2014. Photo Colin Davison, courtesy of AV Festival 14


AV Festival presents a new touring exhibition of Susan Stenger’s sound installation Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland. Commissioned by the Festival in 2014, the work is based on a cross-section diagram of coastal geological formations from the River Tyne to the Scottish border, drawn by the pioneering local mining engineer Nicholas Wood in 1838.

Using the diagram as a graphic score, Stenger transforms the geologic into the sonic in a 59-minute work that travels from the coal seams of Tyneside to the porphyritic rocks north of the River Tweed, layering instrumental sounds, melodic patterns and signature rhythms extracted from traditional Northumbrian music and dance. The 2015 tour across Northumberland mirrors this journey, travelling to places referenced on the Wood diagram, thereby placing the work in the landscape of its inspiration.

From March to September 2015 the exhibition tour follows in Wood’s footsteps to three diverse locations, beginning on the coastal ramparts in the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed at The Gymnasium Gallery, followed by the historic colliery site of Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, and ending on Holy Island in a former coastguard Lookout Tower, sited against a panorama of the Northumberland coastline. The work is remixed for the unique acoustics of each touring venue.

21 March – 26 April 2015, The Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed
21 June – 26 July 2015, Woodhorn Museum, Ashington
1 August – 6 September 2015, The Lookout Tower, Holy Island

A fully illustrated 96-page hardback publication accompanies the exhibition tour, including a CD stereo mix of the installation. The publication includes essays by award-winning nature writer Robert Macfarlane and the writer, curator and filmmaker Katherine Waugh, and an interview between the artist, Mathieu Copeland and Rebecca Shatwell. The publication is available online from 21 March here. 

Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland presents a programme of talks and events during the tour including a series of unique coastal sound walks led by the acclaimed wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson; an opening concert with two of Scotland’s leading folk musicians, the songwriter, guitarist and singer Alasdair Roberts and piper Barnaby Brown; a traditional Northumbrian folk music concert at Woodhorn Museum with leading Tyneside folk musicians Stewart Hardy, Andy May, Chris Ormston and Benny Graham; and a special closing concert including a new work by Susan Stenger presented in the unique acoustics of St Mary’s Church on Holy Island. 

Many of the events are free admission, advance booking is recommended for all events as some capacities are limited.

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