Cumbria Crack

Local community artist wins international competition

Jenn Mattinson recording wind turbines in West Cumbria
Jenn Mattinson recording wind turbines in West Cumbria

[A] community artist based in Keswick has just won an international sound art competition, with a collaborative piece of work that was all recorded in Cumbria.

Using interviews and field recordings pertaining to all manner of cyclical processes, circuits, loops, spinning things and rotating machines ‘Circular Thinking’ is a multi-channel piece of work by local creative facilitator Jenn Mattinson and Mark Vernon, a sound artist based in Glasgow.

They were joint winners of the ‘Radio Art’ category at the Phonurgia Nova Awards, hosted at the National Library in France, along with Hanna Hartman from Germany.

Phonurgia Nova is from the name of a 17th Century book by German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher who wrote extensively about new methods of sound production. The piece was originally commissioned by Octopus Collective, a sound art and new music organisation based in Barrow-in-Furness, and premiered at the FON Festival (Festival of Noise) in Barrow in summer 2015.

Sourced from across the region, the material used in the composition includes recordings of a potter at his wheel in Askham, Penrith launderette, wind turbines around Wigton, Workington speedway, Acorn Bank water mill, bicycle wheels, a clock restorer at his workshop in Brampton and a tour of the Cranston’s sausage factory to witness the making of the famous spiral Cumberland ring sausages.

Jenn predominantly works within the field of oral history and reminiscence, and delivers creative workshops for older people and with people living with dementia, but she is also extremely passionate about using sound recordings creatively and the realm between traditional radio and sound art. Jenn and Mark will share 1000 euros in prize money, and have since been approached by the head of EURORADIO to broadcast the piece on Deutschlandradio Kultur in Berlin.

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