News

I have some happy news items to share here.

Firstly, all being well, I shall commence a post at Oxford Brookes University this May as an early career research fellow. The post is for one year. One day I might find the energy to write about the highs/lows of being a self-employed artist and about the things I have loved/loathed about the past two years, but today I will just say that I am supremely happy to have a whole year ahead of me in which I can be certain that there will be actual money for food, plus time, space and support to develop my practice within SARU. What this post will give me is the opportunity to plan ambitious projects, long-term projects, and projects which may not find a commercial sponsor or attract funding through a more short-term commissioning process.

This fantastic news makes the horrorshow of the PhD Thesis-writing feel retrospectively worth the bother.

thesis

Embarking on this post is really empowering, and I am taking some time between now and May to think about my long-term interests in the relationships between sounds and places, sounds and history, and sounds and textiles… and of course our imaginative relationship with the everyday sounds which surround us all the time.

I am thinking about what I will make, do, apply for, attempt, envision, create, and hear, and it’s a pleasure to have the head-room to be able to think about such things, and I feel as though a constant fug of fear has been lifted from my brain.

In related news I spent a very happy time in Brussels with Valeria Merlini, developing our shared Ford&Merlini field-recording workshops with some really brilliant students from the RITS School of Arts. They were enthusiastic, bright, curious, skilled and lively radio students, and we couldn’t have asked for a finer bunch. It was especially interesting to work with students with a more technical and conventional radio background than either of us has, and in that respect it felt like a really rich exchange of different radio-related ideas. Our students all worked incredibly hard, and produced beautiful, engaging audio, which you will soon be able to hear via the framework:radio show. All this makes me feel infinitely optimistic and excited about the teaching obligations that go with my academic post. Here are Valeria (L) and Clementine (R) editing like mad for our group presentation!

workshop

Valeria and I were invited by Q-O2, who also invited me to Leuven earlier this year and I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed both these opportunities to work in Belgium. It is really very nice to be invited to work somewhere where the context is completely appropriate for what you do, where the people you are working with are clever and friendly, and where you get paid on time without any kind of fuss. Commissioning organisations and galleries, take note! Q-O2 have set the gold standard!

One massive bonus of the workshop run by Valeria and I was that it ran alongside other workshops by such fascinating practitioners as Christina Kubisch, Will Schrimshaw and Nikolaus Gansterer. These practitioners all explore relationships between sound and space in fascinating and different ways, and it was incredibly enriching to spend social time with them in the evenings talking about life, art, the idea of site-specific sound projects etc. I also loved hanging out with Udo Noll – creator of the visionary aporee sound map and related aporee projects – and Carsten Stabenow, who is the director of Tuned City, and some kind of curating/organisational genius. It was so good to build on these professional relationships begun in Tuned City Tallinn, 2011, and bought back many happy memories of my first trip to Estonia and the incredible, heady sonic richness of that festival.

centre-of-tallinn

Views of Tallinn, Summer 2011

I came back from Brussels a week ago, brim-full of ideas and motivation for June! I have more to say about the workshop, the other artists, and where I hope our Ford&Merlini workshops will take us during the main festival in June, but will share all that when I have gotten over the chest infection I picked up running around Brussels with microphones and recorders in a brisk Spring breeze!

I love these photos which Carsten took of our workshop in progress in Kaaistudios and which Ann kindly sent across from Q-O2; I am not sure what I was saying about that gunshot microphone in the kit demonstration image, but I beg the forgiveness of any fashionistas who read this blog. I will never make the cut as a fashion blogger, but as Valeria explained to more than one student complaining about their noisy coat, my clothes are sonically delightful for field-recording – i.e. they do not rustle when I am recording the all important SOUNDZ, so who cares if I completely fail to iron them on occasion?!

gunshot-mic-demo_ann_gossen

ann_gossens_Tuned-City-Work

Photos © Carsten Stabenow and sent across by Ann at Q-O2. Used with kind permission of Tuned City Brussels 2013. See more photos of Tuned City Brussels here

In news from closer to home, the film soundtrack which I was working on in London last Spring – Bathing and Dressing, Parts 1 & 2, is now available to buy on the BFI film DVD release, Your Children and You. I feel honoured to have my work included in this important collection of socio-historic films, which together articulate a series of important, changing ideas concerning how we raise and educate our children. My work on the soundtrack is exactly the sort of project which I hoped that exploring “The Domestic Soundscape” would lead me to in time when I embarked on a PhD over six years ago, dealing with the everyday stuff of life, and bringing a focus on sounds to the examination of such (extra)ordinary things as bathing a baby. I am proud to see my field recordings from the process now archived and available on the Wellcome Library website as a learning resource for future researchers and there will be more news on this project in coming days. I have a small essay included in the booklet that goes with the DVD; it was a pleasure to write this, and I was delighted to be able to thank Helena Murray and her mum, and all the other mums (who wish to remain anonymous) whose input was invaluable for this project in writing. I was also glad to be able to give a shout out to Ian Rawes, who was very helpful at the British Library during the research phase of this project and whose own very fine work on The London Sound Survey is an ongoing source of enjoyment and inspiration.

no-plastic-ducks

There it is – my essay in all its printed glory in the pages of Your Children and You

In summary, it’s a good time. The best time I’ve had in ages; there are projects aplenty, I can stop worrying about money for the foreseeable future, and I am surrounded by inspiring practitioners, all working with sound. I feel supported by worthy institutions, and the net result is that I feel like a real, proper, grown-up soundartist.

To boot, I had a thoroughly beautiful, Boring Weekend with Mark just this weekend past. We drank Vana Tallinn and made Estonian biscuit cake, (thanks Patrick and Tuuli!) and planted beetroot and borlotti beans. I dyed some Portland fleece successfully and unsuccessfully with onion skins and woad respectively. I am behind on emails, and the queen of chicken soups. Thanks for all your comments on the Boring Weekends post, by the way; writing the post and then reading your very thoughtful responses put me in mind of Christine Hill’s work, and the lovely quote she features from Amedee Ozenfant in one of her brilliant Volksboutique posters, stating “Art is the Demonstration that The Ordinary is Extraordinary”.

I used a photo I took years ago of Christine Hill’s poster in my presentation in Brussels, and will reprise the slide here. The first time I realised I was totally serious about being an artist in my adult life was when I saved up €500 painting murals one summer in Dublin, so that I could afford the air fare to fly to New York to interview Christine Hill. What I love about her work is the focus that she brings to the everyday through her practice. Though I love shaping this concept specifically to my own aesthetics and through a sonic focus, Christine Hill and her work with Volksboutique remain a defining influence.

christine-hill-volksboutiqu

Poster quoting Amedee Ozenfant from Christine Hill’s Volksboutique

4 Responses to News

  1. Nadine says:

    I love reading your blog and listening to the sounds you find und record! Congrats on your upcoming job -I spent a lot of time in the last years in short-term academic positions and the relief i felt when i got a contract for a year is still on my mind (and how awful and stressful worrying about money and the possibility of unemployment was ). Wishing you an inspiring and successful time!

  2. Joanna says:

    Very many congratulations on your new job. I am so happy for you! I am sure you will be a huge asset to the university.

  3. Jeannette Smyth says:

    thrilled with your news of a good post, you so deserve it. looking fwd to all the fecundities it will give you support to do.

  4. Jen says:

    A few things I want to say at the end of a lot that you have said. 1. Congratulations Felix, for your new post at the University !!! 2. You *are* quite the fashionista… don’t you know that the language of clothes is quite the element of fashion? (says I) Choosing to not iron your linen, is saying quite the statement, and I also speak this no-iron-linen dialect… as well, one reason I have a real *thing* about Irish linen, because it well, looks so delicious un-ironed. You know, linen has particular sensual character to it when it is *not* ironed, to iron it would be to ‘tape shut it’s mouth’. 3. Something you said “…and of course our imaginative relationship with the everyday sounds which surround us all the time.” I have to say, this engagement with myself and my everyday life is not easy. For one, I must learn to turn off the volume in my head of constant noise (…just loud thoughts, not ringing or such) and to do that first, then one can listen to what is to be heard.It is my nemisis, and why I knit constantly. 4.You painted murals? Wow ! 5. I must now read your other posts I have missed…

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