Off the wall

Collision & Conflict, by Green Croft Arts, is a geolocated sound walk along Hadrian’s Wall national trail, triggering artistic responses connected to specific locations on the route enjoyed through headphones.

The soundwalk is one of the shortlisted pieces in the Sound Walk September Awards 2021. Here, Amanda Drago, one of the artists working on this piece, gives an overview of what went in to its creation.

Green Croft Arts are a small not for profit arts organisation led by directors, Amanda Drago & Kit Haigh. Green Croft Art’s purpose is to improve the health and wellbeing of visitors and rural communities on the border of Northumberland and Cumbria, through arts, and cultural and wellbeing activities, that connect them more deeply with the landscape and heritage of our unique location on the world heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall. 

Collision & Conflict came about as a direct response to COVID. In the last 2 years we have presented a series of art installations under the title of Art in the Barn. With lockdown and social distancing restrictions in place we were not able to continue programming the barn. We had to adapt the way we made and presented work and Collision & Conflict was created as a response to the pandemic. 

Collision & Conflict is a geolocated sound walk through the Northumberland landscape taking in Hadrian’s Wall National Trail. The sound walk uses ECHOES, an interactive GPS-triggered sound app and as users walk along, the gps on their phone triggers the artistic responses connected to specific locations on the route, enjoyed through their headphones.

Artists

After an open call-out Green Croft Arts commissioned 14 artists with strong links to Northumberland, Cumbria and nationalities that reflected the past diversity of the communities that built, manned, and lived along Hadrian’s Wall; namely Syrians, Belgiums, Africans and Romanians. The 9 commissions were creative responses in song, music, manipulated field recordings and spoken word which explored the historical, archeological and environmental conflicts and issues that affect contemporary rural communities today. 

Research & Development 

We had planned 2 guided field trips with the artists, but due to tightened COVID restrictions the research phase happened as a mixture of online webinars with archeologists & ranger talks, plus self-guided site visits for artists who were either local or able to travel to the area. We created a film of the route for artists not able to travel which we shared online, and an artists WhatsApp group to share artistic practice and process, stay connected and be part of a collective whilst socially distancing. It is a tribute to all the artists that they adapted their practice without complaint and produced wonderful work despite the difficulties involved. 
One pair of artists completed the whole process remotely from Spain due to travel restrictions, yet their piece has an incredibly strong connection with its location on Hadrian’s Wall .

Originally planned as a linear walk along the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail, the walk became circular taking in parts of the Trail. This enabled audiences to walk to and from their own mode of transport and in their own bubble of family.

Despite lockdown situations, we asked the artists to ensure they built in community engagement within their project, after the making of our once the sound walk had launched. Our role was to facilitate the connection. By making community at the heart of the walk we have reached more people. 

Jose Snook + Dean Dennis, Peregrination makes use of the songs and calls of selected migratory birds to reflect upon the historical presence and experience of the African people who lived and worked along Hadrian’s Wall. 

Olivia Furber + Ramzi Maqdisi, All Walls Must Fall transports listeners to 3 conflicted landscapes in which we hear the accounts of inhabitants whose lives have been divided by a wall.

:zoviet*france: (Ben Ponton & Mark Warren), Hidden-ln-by-the-Wall features found sounds; the hidden, often inaudible sounds around Walltown, interwoven with lost sounds from the past and the wind singing through harp strings on top of the crags.

Emma Newrick, The Memory of Water is narrated by the spirit of the Tipalt Burn; a witness to all the stories unfolding alongside the burn from the Romans to the Reivers. 

Ellen Moran, Rubble is a poem that walks a psychological trail between village and city, exploring how it feels to move from one environment to the other.

Iona Lane, Tipalt Burn follows a conversation between the burn and Hadrian’s Wall over the course of hundreds of years. 

Lindsay Hannon + David Silk, Come, Let me tell ye… is a modern day Border ballad and spoken story in the style of traditional oral storytelling, hearkening back to the unique native song form of the Border lands of Northumberland and Cumbria.

Dan Fox, Recurve places the listener in the shoes of a Syrian horse archer stationed in this bleak outpost 3000 miles from his home in Aleppo.

Bridie Jackson + Jude Irwin, Walls within walls is a piece in 3 movements, each featuring short snippets of recorded conversations during lockdown over Zoom exploring the reality of life on the wall and the challenges this presents; including climate change, the impact of both farming and tourism on the environment and ownership of the landscape.

The walk was featured in The Guardian’s 20 of the best autumn escapes, and on Radio 4’s Open Country  for which the artists were interviewed and recorded performing in the landscape. 

Amanda Drago began her career as a Dance Artist, choreographing, performing and teaching before retraining as a yoga teacher and focusing on her Creative Producing skills. 

Kit Haigh is a multi skilled sound artist, composer and musician. He has performed extensively with folk artists Kathryn Tickell and Maddie Prior as well as rock and jazz groups. He has scored a variety of screen and stage based work including the EMMY and BAFTA winning C4 documentary The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off.

The work was funded by Arts Council England and Northumberland National Park

Amanda’s review is the ninth in a series of the artists shortlisted for the Sound Walk September 2021 Awards talking about their work.

Green Croft Arts

United Kingdom

Green Croft Arts is a not for profit organisation, offering arts, culture and wellbeing activities to visitors and rural communities on the Northumberland / Cumbria border. ​​ We are inspired by the landscape and heritage of the area. We are motiv...

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