'Musically, it was tender and unerringly beautiful,'
– The Guardian

About A
Time and Place

– Rachel Unthank
– Becky Unthank
– Sam Lee
– Adrian McNally
– Video Design by Matthew J Watkins

A Time and Place presents an evening of music inspired by the folk song, stories and poetry of the First World War created for audiences today. Known for their ability to take traditional repertoire and reinvent it for contemporary ears, Mercury Prize folk artists Sam Lee, Rachel and Becky Unthank collaborate for the first time in this distinctive project marking the centenary of the First World War.

As part of an 11 strong line-up they will perform original repertoire from the time alongside new material inspired by personal stories and arrangements to First World War poetry, all against the backdrop of Matthew J Watkins striking video design.

The centenary of the First World War offers a unique opportunity to look back at the creative landscape of the early twentieth century and to rediscover the oral tradition from this time. Alongside high profile young artists such as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Ivor Gurney, so many more were lost, and with the death of those in the folk tradition, died the continuation of many songs, tales and tunes. A Time and Place seeks to unearth and revive these traditions for the 21st century.

As part of the R&D for this project, Sam Lee spent time researching the wartime folk songs and personal stories from rural communities in the South West. In early 2014 he met local people who inherited songs and stories from the First World War as part of a writing residency – including a 105 year old lady who remembers Zeppelins crashing in her local village. This inspired new songs and arrangements which he performed as work in progress back in each of the villages before developing further for the main show. Becky and Rachel Unthank are creating new music set to First World War poetry as well as new arrangements of songwriters from the North East at the time of the War. The Unthanks’ Adrian McNally will arrange all of the above material for an 11 strong line-up especially put together for the project including string quartet and brass.

The musicians are excited to also be working with innovative video designer Matthew J Watkins who, as part of Gorillaz, worked on Monkey – Journey to the West and most recently on Live_Transmission: Joy Division Reworked. Visually the period of the First World War was incredibly modern, with the art of the Vorticist movement including Jacob Epstein’s futuristic sculpture The Rock Drill. Matthew draws on the inspiration of this movement for his video design as well as the fact that so many men of the land had yet to encounter this age of modernity and the machine with such tragic results on the battlefield.


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The Artists

sam lee

Sam Lee


rachel and becky unthank

Rachel & Becky Unthank


Adrian McNally

Adrian McNally


A Time and Place

Co-Produced by


Co-Produced by

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