Last week, Bridget and I unveiled the ‘Our Place’ soundwalk that we’ve been working on for the last few months. It was a busy day and we’ve now had around 40-odd people listen to it, which is really great. It is the final output from her Leverhulme Trust funded Residency.
Audience responses were unanimously positive from people across the university: from the oral historians documenting the history of the university for the centenary; to the varied people who work in our building; to the chaplaincy advocating walking as a means of connecting and calming; to people looking for art on campus; to my colleagues for seeing how we have represented ‘our place’ and our research.
People liked the local-global flavour of the work – how what we do in the Wallace Building connects to places all over the world. Some would have liked to have more about the building, and indeed, people often thought they’d essentially be getting a lab/office tour – but that would have required more staging than we could realistically accommodate! The resonances between the environments walked through around the building and the spoken text were what people commented on the most: the post-apocalyptic landscapes of Fukushima against the verdant green of nature reclaiming walls; the Cambodian folk tales by the pond; the soil in the flower beds as the ‘bowels of the earth’. We talked a lot about how to get people ‘into’ the walk as it is quite disorientating to start with – and maybe starting it a bit differently.
In future, I’m hoping to incorporate the walk into UCAS Open Days and teaching assignments.
I feel a bit sad that the end is here, as it’s been great having Bridget around every week! I’ve learned a lot, again, and it has helped Bridget develop her artistic practice too – which is, of course, the point of the residency! We’ve both said we’re pleased I’m on the board of Papertrail (her theatre company), so we can keep in touch, and I’m sure more will come in future. I’m really looking forward to going to her upcoming productions: the R&D of A Night in the Clink in Cardiff in September; and the brilliant Project Hush (co-produced by Theatr Clwyd in 2020).