Soundtrack of the Sea


The invited contributors to Benthic Caress are Chris Watson, Leah Barclay, and Jez Riley French. Chris Watson provided 10 minutes of sound captured in the thriving corals of the South China Seas, Leah Barclay provided 10 minutes of sounds selected from her work with the Biosphere Soundscapes, an interdisciplinary research project working in collaboration with multiple organisations and institutions across the USA, South America, Australia, Europe, India, Indonesia and Cambodia. Jez Riley French provided 10 minutes of sound taken from a recording in Iceland of minerals from the sea bed dissolving in a solution that relates to the corrosive levels of pollution at that location.

Chris Watson is one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena, and for Touch he edits his field recordings into a filmic narrative. For example. the unearthly groaning of ice in an Icelandic glacier is a classic example of, in Watson’s words, putting a microphone where you can’t put your ears. In 1971 he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. His sound recording career began in 1981 when he joined Tyne Tees Television. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. As a freelance recordist for film, tv & radio, Chris Watson specialises in natural history and documentary location sound together with track assembly and sound design in post production.

​Jez riley French (b. 1965)
Using intuitive composition, field recording, improvisation and photography, Jez has
been exploring his enjoyment of and interest in detail, simplicity and his emotive
response to places and situations for over 3 decades. Alongside performances, exhibitions, installations, JrF lectures and runs workshops around the world and his range of specialist microphones are widely used by recordists,  sound artists, musicians, sound designers and cultural organisations. He also works as a curator of live events, a record label, of sound installations and an arts zine ‘verdure engraved’. In recent years he has been working extensively on recordings of surfaces, spaces and situations and developing the concept of photographic scores and ‘scores for listening’, which have featured widely in publications and exhibitions. His work has been exhibited in shows and installations alongside that of Yoko Ono,David Bowie, Pauline Oliveros, Chris Watson, Alvin Lucier, Annea Lockwood, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Stars of the Lid, Jeremy Deller, Sarah Lucas, Brian Eno, Signe Liden, Sally Ann McIntyre etc, at galleries including The Whitworth Gallery (Manchester), Tate Modern and Tate Britain, MOT – Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (Japan), Artisphere (USA). For the Hull, Capital of Culture year 2017 year in the UK, Jez has created a number of works including the installation of Icelandic recordings ‘the sound of the world turning’ for John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux festival, and also collaborated with Jan Bang, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset & Opera North on ‘The Height of the Reeds’, an installation based sound walk in the Humber Bridge. He has been described, in an interview with the British Library, as one of the most influential sound artists of his generation, not only for his own creative work but also for his expansion of extended field recording techniques and modes of listening into key elements of the sonic arts, film, tv, radio, architecture & the games industry.

Dr Leah Barclay is an Australian sound artist, composer and researcher working at the intersection of art, science and technology. She specialises in electroacoustic music, acoustic ecology and emerging fields of biology exploring environmental patterns and changes through sound. Her work has been commissioned, performed and exhibited to wide acclaim across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Peru, Colombia, Europe, India, South Africa, China and Korea by organisations including UNESCOEar to the EarthStreaming Museum, Al Gore’s Climate Reality and the IUCN. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and has directed and curated interdisciplinary projects across the Asia-Pacific and USA. Leah composes complex sonic environments that draw attention to changing climates and fragile ecosystems. These works are realised through live performances, interactive installations and site-specific interventions drawing on environmental field recordings, data sonification, live streams and immersive sound diffusion. Recent examples include augmented reality sound walksexploring the cultural and biological diversity of river systems and Rainforest Listening, a virtual canopy that transforms iconic urban locations into the Amazon Rainforest. Rainforest Listening launched in Times Square for Climate Week NYC 2015 and was a featured cultural event for COP21 in Paris where each observatory platform of the Eiffel Tower was transformed into the four distinct layers of tropical rainforest vegetation through immersive soundscapes accessed through mobile phones. Leah’s work is multi-platform in nature and involves long-term engagement with communities across the globe ranging from remote river systems in South India to pacific island communities in Vanuatu. She leads several large-scale research projects including Biosphere Soundscapes, an interdisciplinary venture exploring the changing soundscapes of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves across the world and River Listening, which examines the creative possibilities of aquatic bioacoustics in collaboration with the Australian Rivers Institute. Leah’s diverse creative practice has resulted in a career where she works as a researcher, artist, consultant and educator with various organisations and institutions. These include designing immersive education programs for UNESCO, directing large-scale interdisciplinary research projects for major universities across Australia and the USA and facilitating partnerships between communities, NGOs and government to explore creative approaches to climate action. She regularly guest lectures for international universities including NYUBrown University and The Art Institute of Chicago. Leah is the president of the Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology, the vice-president of the World Forum of Acoustic Ecology and serves on the board of a range of arts and environmental organisations. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre where she is leading a portfolio of research exploring the value of acoustic ecology as a socially engaged, accessible, interdisciplinary field that can inspire communities across the world to listen to the environment.

The invited contributors were Chris Watson, Leah Barclay, and Jez Riley French whose broad profiles have been outlined above. Chris Watson provided 10 minutes of sound captured in the thriving corals of the South China Seas, Leah Barclay provided 10 minutes of sounds selected from her work with the Biosphere Soundscapes, an interdisciplinary research project working in collaboration with multiple organisations and institutions across the USA, South America, Australia, Europe, India, Indonesia and Cambodia. Jez Riley French provided 10 minutes of sound taken from a recording in Iceland of minerals from the sea bed dissolving in a solution that relates to the corrosive levels of pollution at that location. These three contributions offered a global perspective and a highly professional standard and context for subsequent submissions by emergent sound artists.

Artists selected by submission include
Ivon Oates: UNDER AN UPTURNED BOAT’ recordings made under an upturned boat lying in a stream on Eype beach, Dorset. The remote sounds of waves, passers by, and dogs on shingle echo within the contained space, while the rippling stream is amplified. Ivon oates’s multi-disciplinary approach incorporates soundwork and digital media with fine arts and architectural/environmental design. She enjoys collaborative projects that engage a deep exploration of consciousness in nature, especially our relationship with the wild. She has exhibited and installed work widely in Europe and UK, and participated in festivals, (B-side Dorset, Whitstable Biennale).

David Rogers: Dungeness Tower Shoreline. Recorded using Shotgun Mics (above the surf), Hydro Mics (under the surf) Contact Mics (on the tower). His creative practice includes installation, combining 3D construction, performance and screen based work, single screen, projections, multiple screen works and audio, ranging from soundscapes to compositional sound. Work exhibited in both gallery and non gallery situations.

Rachael Allain: Sternidae Altum Is a subaquatic sound recording capturing the Terns feeding on the turning tide at sunset on a remote South Devon beach at the end of the summer. Sternidae or Terns, sometimes referred to as sea swallows, are migratory sea birds that return to warmer climes in the autumn. Most Tern species are declining in numbers due to the loss or disturbance of breeding habitat, pollution and increased predation. Found throughout the world, they are summer visitors to Europe, spending the winter off the coast of Africa. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, RSPB, considers Terns to have an Amber conservation status category.

Andrea V Wright: Dissolve, Cease was written and recorded at a small fishing village in Cornwall for the 2015 Porthleven Prize. Her practice explores the relationships between the formal and indexical employing both geometric and organic structural references. She works both intuitively and systematically through the use of natural and manmade materials and found objects.

Moore & Parker have 3 short pieces included – Very recent hydrophone recording of marine life in a rock pool near Devil’s Point, French students enjoying an idyllic evening on Falmouth’s Gyllyngvase Beach, and Night Sounding Sound composition of a trawler fleet protesting in Plymouth Sound against fishing restrictions.

Lee Berwick: Dwr (Welsh for ‘water’) was created on retreat in North Wales and uses sonification to explore the potential of enchantment.

Finally, a playful contribution from the SW Trio Wildlife Discotheque who often work with museums and other cultural institutions sharing their vinyl wildlife recordings. These recordings had been gathered over many years from the overgrown, neglected and wilder corners of local charity shops, record fairs, and car boot sales. The discs plot a crackly history of nature sound and the pioneers who spent hours in the field with cumbersome gear and an ear for sound and song.



Benthic Caress – literally  – means loving the ocean. This silent disco in the sea takes place during Plymouth Art Weekender, and is a one hour, one off, participatory performance where you, the participants, are both the audience and the performers. Selected sonic works that make up the soundtrack for this unique celebration of our seas will be announced shortly. In the meantime, grab your tickets here while you can.

Behind the scenes I’ve been spending the summer doing Summer Schools – the Association of Commonwealth Universities brought 50 students from far flung places to Bath Spa University for a packed week, including visits to Avebury and the Avalon Marshes. A week in Utrecht offered an immersive experience with Rosi Braidotti, exploring posthuman ethics, whilst 48 hours in London included presentations from Parliament, The British Library, Routledge and the Wellcome Trust. Inbetween, I squeezed in a workshop with DAISI and The Box, and did my first Instagram Takeover, for Plymouth Art Weekender. These next few weeks will be taken up preparing my film Liquid Mimesis for screening at a conference in Adelaide, working on my progression assessment for the PhD, and presenting my most ambitious work to date: Benthic Caress.

Benthic Caress – artists call out

Benthic Caress is a one-hour participatory performance piece, which offers a unique experience in the Tidal Pool at Devils Point, Plymouth, during Plymouth Art Weekender 2017. Benthic Caress is a gathering of 100 people  within the confines of the tidal pool, who will take part in a ‘silent disco’ where the soundtrack is a collection of specially curated sound pieces selected from a call-out to the lively international network of ecoacoustic artists, showcasing work which celebrates the diversity of marine life. Benthic Caress is a collaboration between Laura Denning and the artists taking part. Saturday 23rd September (time tbc: tide-dependent).

Artists are invited to propose or submit a 10 minute (max) sound piece which explores, reveals, celebrates or mourns the rich diversity of marine life, including critically endangered or extinct species, and can include the human presence also. The brief is really very broad, but the intention is to give participants an intimate engagement, through sound, with ocean life.

Plymouth Art Weekender is in its third year. The Weekender confidently celebrates Plymouth, its people and the visual arts, promoting the city as an exciting contemporary art destination.

Laura Denning is a transdisciplinary artist who often uses sound, and moving image, but not just. She often (but not always!) considers curation to be a form of art practice also. For last years’ Plymouth Art Weekender she presented a Live Art Performance in which wild swimmers dived off The Hoe and interacted with the underwater webcam in Plymouth Sound, the footage being relayed live to the Big Screen in the City Centre. All her work focuses on water.

Full publicity and promotion will be given to the selected artists, and the work will subsequently be broadcast on Soundart Radio, for whom Laura is a regular broadcaster.

To submit a proposal/piece of work, send your MP3s to by September 10th. Include contact details, a brief description and a brief bio. Selected artists will be notified by September 15th.


Lying down in a darkened auditorium, with 30 other people, listening to Chris Watson’s Trent Falls to Spurn Point sound installation, with him in the room. Walking with Crickets with Lisa Hall from CRiSAP.  Total yet peripatetic immersion in the River Listening Sound Walk by Leah Barclay, followed by a hands on sound mapping workshop with Leah, and Grant Smith from Soundcamp. Finding Judit again, and finally meeting Simon. Seeing Tania Kovats’ work  and Dorothy Cross’ ‘Ghost Ship’ at Hull Maritime Museum.

Falling in love with Hull, enjoying the City of Culture, Paper City, the bus drivers. Meeting and talking with sound artists from all over the world. And so much more.

And coming home.



FaB – the Finale: Primordial at Cleveland Pools

Lose yourself this weekend – wander down Hampton Row and slink through the discreet gate to behold the hidden gem that is Cleveland Pools. You will not be disappointed. You will always remember coming here. There are just 2  more days to see 11 outstanding artists whose work considers how we relate to other species, and how we relate to water. Saturday is an open day, with nothing scheduled except time to take it all in.

Sunday is the finale, with two exceptional events for you to take part in. At 11am Devon Forrester Jones leads an immersive and collaborative experiential event that sets the intent for change.

This is the social body – cells together. Functions vary. Discourse is osmosis. For the body to continue cells must communicate, enzymes must be responsive, must accept the substrate. To do that we have to increase the sensitivity of the cells, of ourselves.

At 2pm Carol Laidler and Pat Jamieson (alldaybreakfast) draw the exhibition to a close with a participatory event that relates to their haunting and evocative sound piece that has been one of the highlights of the show.

The history of water
holds in solution
what has been done
by whom
to whom
at whose behest
and why
This is what came down the river
This is what was thrown away….

And lastly, by way of an outroduction, let me share with you a little about my art practice and the work I have included in Primordial. 5 Soups is a simple augmented reality experience, in which viewers are invited to step through still images, using their smart phones, to discover experimental poems, both visual and sonic. Primordial is a short film, shot on a mobile phone, at Cleveland Pools itself. Human and other species intervene in the pond life and disrupt the tranquillity of this forgotten space.

Two mesmerising filmworks in Fringe Arts Bath 17

Wander into the backstreets of Bath, beyond the Holburne Museum, between the canal and the river, and meander down to the breath-taking site that is Cleveland Pools over the next two weekends. Here you will discover a selection of film and sound works by a range of artists whose work all considers our relationship with water. Two artists whose work will captivate you are Annette Arlander, and Amy Sharrocks. Their work couldn’t be more different from each other – in one a lone woman has her back turned from us as she contemplates the tide in a vast, unpopulated land/seascape, whilst the other film shares the experience of 50 swimmers as they travel across London from lido to lake to canal swimming in each site before moving on to the next one.

Primordial is on view at Cleveland pools 3/4th June and 10/11 June 10am-4pm (BA2 6QS)

Annette Arlander – Tide in Kan-Tiang

A small tree grows in a rocky cove near Kan Tiang beach on the Island of Koh Lanta in Thailand. On one of the last days of the year 2015 I stand next to it for a day with two-hour intervals in order to experience the tide together with it.

Annette Arlander is a Helsinki-based artist, researcher and a pedagogue, one of the pioneers of Finnish performance art and a trailblazer of artistic research. She graduated as a director from Theatre Academy in 1981 and as Doctor of Art in 1999. Arlander was Professor of Performance Art and Theory at Theatre Academy 2001-13, Professor of Artistic Research 2015-16 at University of the Arts Helsinki and visiting professor at Stockholm University of the Arts. Her art work focuses on performing (in, with, through) landscape by means of video or recorded voice, in the border zone between performance art, video and environmental art. At present she works with the project “Performing with Plants”.

Amy Sharrocks – SWIM

On 12 July 2007, 50 people swam across London. ​

SWIM was an open invitation, all-access swim from South to North London, inspired as much by Burt Lancaster’s odyssey across the American landscape of the ‘The Swimmer’ (1959), as by the Keystone Kops and Benny Hill. The live artwork traced the blue across a brown cityscape, offering a very British response to Frank Perry’s film at the start of the 21st Century. SWIM drew out Burt Lancaster’s male purpose and concentration on the body beautiful into an inclusive, participatory celebration – a kind of flesh mobbing – with male and female swimmers of all ages, sizes and abilities, exploring ideas of freedom in this dream of swimming the capital. This film documents the day and the journey through London.

Amy Sharrocks is a live artist, sculptor and film-maker whose artworks are centred in collaboration and exchange, the impact we have on each other and the world around us. For 12 years she has made work about people and water. She has floated boats on swimming pools across the UK, group dowsed the central rivers of London and swam across the city with 50 people for SWIM.  Sharrocks won the SculptureShock award from the Royal British Society of Sculptors for her work on falling, and was shortlisted for an Arts Foundation award. Her writing on falling was collected into the Live Art Almanac 4, the best writings on Live Art 2016. The award-winning artwork Museum of Water was shortlisted for European Museum of the Year 2016 and is currently touring Australia.

Two more Primordial artists

Come on down to Cleveland Pools in Bath – anytime between 10am and 3pm over the next 3 weekends, and discover the artists and artworks that make Primordial a real stand out show as part of Fringe Arts Bath 2017.

You will find work by Antony Lyons – Et In Arcadia

Will this be The Dawning of the Age of the Invertebrates…? Drawing on Morton’s ‘Dark Ecology’, and referring to the abstraction of river water for Cleveland Pools, this is a cinematic installation piece, involving partly live magnified projection of riverfly activities.

Antony says ‘As an independent creative practitioner with a background in eco/geo-sciences and landscape design, many of my projects are concerned with the relationships between ecological processes, environmental change and cultural adaptations. Areas of particular focus include coastal/river landscapes, deep-time (geological) perspectives, routes/journeys and intangible cultural vitality. My research and production methods rely on geopoetic creative fieldwork and experimental remixing of materials, archives, field-recordings and contemporary narratives – explored in the context of both ‘slow’ and ‘intensive’ artist-residencies. Resulting works include sculpture, film, sound and intermedia installations – addressing tensions, traces, transitions and environmental justice.  Water is central. The future is in flux.  Amongst many other things, I am involved with Hydrocitizens a national team of artists and academics who investigate, and make creative contributions to, the ways in which citizens and communities live with each other and their environment in relation to water in a range of UK neighbourhoods. The research asks a series of questions about what communities are, how they function, and the role of environmental (water) assets and issues in the coming together of communities, conflicts within and between communities, and progress to interconnected community and environmental resilience’.

Sally E Dean – ‘You’re Not Supposed to Be Here 2’

Sally will be screening a film directed as part of her ongoing collaborative project ‘Somatic Movement, Costume & Performance’.  This film, typically viewed while wearing Pointy Hats, invites the viewer on a journey in search of water and beyond.

 Sally E. Dean (USA/UK) has been an interdisciplinary performer, performance maker and teacher over 18 years – in university, professional and community settings across Europe, Asia and the USA.  Her teaching and performance work is highly informed by somatic-based practices, her cross-cultural projects in Asia and her background in both dance and theatre – integrating site, costume and object.  Since 2011, Sally leads the ‘Somatic Movement, Costume & Performance Project’ – designing costumes that create specific body-mind experiences leading to performances, lectures, films and workshops. She has been supported by the Arts Council England and the British Council and is an MPhil candidate at Royal Holloway University (Drama/Theatre department).

Cleveland Pools – a Georgian Lido – and the venue for Primordial at Fringe Arts Bath (16 May-11th June weekends only)



Today I introduce 2 artists whose work has a strong sonic identity. To find out more come along to the exhibition – less than a week away.

Jenny Wylie – Elemental

I have held a long standing intrigue for ‘negative space’ exploring the structures, hierarchies, patterns or routines which hold together the more visible parts of our daily lives. Installation, sound and performance have been my preferred means to share the work. I have recently graduated from the master’s course in social sculpture/connective practice at Oxford Brookes University, where I was concentrating on dialogue as an interpretative tool to a better understanding of the human senses.

Lake water lapping gently over the stones at the shore.  River waters tumbling over the man made courses. Rainwater’s uneven rhythms beating against the house. We categorise the flow, the fall and the flood; aim to control it, harness the power, and sell it as commodity. We live on it, travel over under and through it and sometimes listen to it. Water: elemental source of our lives.This work incorporates watery sounds from several sites, and the sounds of people in and near to their element.

Sarah Eliza Knight – “I write at inappropriate times”

A British poet, multidisciplinary artist and hand papermaker, and a doctoral student at the Royal College of Art. She has been publishing and performing her work regularly since her first chapbook release ‘locklines’ in 2010 (KFS Press). She has exhibited internationally and been involved in a number of translation and collaboration projects.

‘My work has recently been exploring the themes of time and water. I’m particularly interested in representations of non-linear time which counter the narrative of progress at the core of western modernity. Drawing on contemporary indigenous, historic and mythological examples of conceptually distinctive understandings of time, I’ve been embracing the oceanic, cyclical nature of a wet time that swells and contracts, circles upon, touches itself, and is both simultaneously intimate and expansive.

Alongside this runs an ongoing interest in storytelling, acts of writing and our relationship to our hands as a means of forming and shaping the world around us. This piece explores the non compliant elements of creative time and speaks to the unstructured, overflowing that feeds my writing practice defying attempts to schedule it; the composition that happens often when I am walking, swimming, cleaning, bathing, resting and sleeping’.

Two weeks to go until Primordial at Fringe Arts Bath

And two more introductions…

Carol Laidler and Pat Jamieson from alldaybreakfast with Tommy Cha present the sound piece ‘Changing Rooms’. Carol Laidler and Pat Jamieson are members of alldaybreakfast, a Bristol based artist collective consisting of four artists working within the area of situated art. Their process is collaborative, one of engagement and intervention with place and audience. alldaybreakfast are recipients of funding from Bristol Creative Seed Fund 2016 and Grants for the Arts 2016. They work from their studios at Spike Island. As well as enjoying their work during this exhibition, you can join them for the very special closing event of the exhibition on Sunday 11th June at 2pm .

Clare Bryden is an artist and writer based in Exeter.  ‘Green|Blue: Future Shock’ is a video that has developed from a series of 21 black & white images of ‘trees’, derived from Environment Agency data of land at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea, separating out 21 river catchments around the South coast from the Sussex Ouse to the Bristol and Bath Avon. The view from above has become normalised. Google Maps and OS Maps, city centre plans and ‘you are here’ stickers on the boards at local nature reserves, give the impression of omniscience and omnipotence. The very notion of ‘flood risk’ calls both our knowledge and power into question in the face of uncertainty and the force of nature. What seems to be the most solid and robust is in reality the most fragile and vulnerable. Changing the perspective, looking slant, confers a new understanding and humility.

Clare’s interests are in how human beings affect and are affected by the natural world of which we are part, and the related theology and psychology of connectedness. Her  creative practice springs from her desire to communicate environmental and social issues, her need for hope and energy in keeping on keeping on, and her habit of making connections. Clare typically works in conceptual visual art, synthesising information, textile, and representational environmental art, with a strong element of playfulness. Her art often appears in the public realm, in collaborative projects and exhibitions, and pop-up installations as part of other events. Clare’s background is in science, economics, energy and environment, including employment at Cambridge Econometrics and the Met Office. She is a resident at Kaleider in Exeter, and linked in to the network. She is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, and Storyteller on the organising team of TEDxExeter.