09 Sep 21

High Street Sound Walks: interview with the artists for Redruth

A photo of the sound artists for Redruth - Anna Maria Murphy, Sue Hill and Ciaran Clarke.

We are working with Historic England and the National Trust to launch a series of self-guided, immersive sound walks to help people discover the magic of their local high streets in September 2021.

We caught up with Annamaria Murphy, Sue Hill and Ciaran Clarke, the artists creating the sound walk for Redruth, to find out more about the sound walk, the key themes, stories and sounds that are being explored, their relationship to the area, what they hope audiences will experience from doing the sound walk, and much more.

Can you tell us more about your Sound Walk? What are the key themes, stories and sounds that you are exploring?

Sue: We were very inspired by the Charles Parker Radio Ballads, the layers of collected sound, specially written song and real voices. We liked the idea that all time is present at all times and that you might be able to make these layers of time legible in some way using sound and voices. I think narrative became more prominent in the mix than we had originally thought. But that was because the stories we were told were so delicious and irresistible!

Anna: All that Sue has said! I, as I think the others did too, found women’s stories tantalising, as their histories are harder to find, as of course, history was rarely written by women.

Ciaran: Real places, and real voices, and capturing the sounds of both in a dynamic and exciting way.

Sound walk artists for Redruth

What do you hope audiences will experience from doing the Sound Walk?

Sue: I hope that people will slow down and look up. Redruth has the most peculiar and brilliant architecture, the product of its extravagant tin and copper boom times. But mostly I hope that people will enjoy the very human stories – love, escape, triumph over catastrophe, everyday heroism.

Ciaran: We’re hoping that people allow themselves to be immersed in the voices and stories, press play, and let the tracks run.

How long have you been working as a sound artist? How did you begin your career as a sound artist?

Ciaran: I got to working with sound by accident really, initially making sound for theatre productions, but I love that it is a medium that is completed by the imagination.

Sue: I’m not a sound artist, but I’ve been telling stories all my life, sometimes with sound.

Anna: Similar to Sue, but I have worked with a group of musicians over the last six years, using sound-scape and song to tell stories.

Sitting in Drapery L-R: Tamsin Spargo, Sue Hill, Claire Marshall, Anna Murphy, Tamsin Spago

What is your relationship to Redruth and how has this influenced your approach to this project?

Sue: I grew up here and remember the Redruth of my childhood. There was still a blacksmith shoeing horses in the middle of town, three big department stores, a weekly livestock market, a big brewery with its distinctive malty smell, a saddler…it sounds quaint doesn’t it? But it was confident, proud, a town that liked itself. I left, like most Cornish kids, to explore the world, live in a city. The town went through some really hard times, each time I came home I experienced an almost physical shock at the changes. And now (whisper it) there is a new sense of possibility and hope here. I think that’s what has informed us most of all; a desire to be part of this resurgence, to feel the town looking at itself again and liking what it sees.

Anna: I’m went to college in Pool, near Redruth, and growing up Redruth was not somewhere I would visit. I grew to love it when doing a Rambles walking and writing project years ago, and having done this project, and seen the strength of the community, wouldn’t mind moving to Redruth.

Ciaran: I worked out of Krowji (Cornwall's largest creative hub) for many years, but only ever really passed through. This project has been wonderful for getting immersed in the place and its stories. There is such love for this Magic Town.

Sound artists on Redruth High Street

What is the most unusual sound or interesting discovery that audiences can expect to hear during the Sound Walk?

Sue: We’ll all have our favourites, but I think mine is the list of extraordinary entertainments that took place in the Druid’s Hall – everything from demonstrations of galvanism to the immersive scrolling panorama that took you from New York to San Francisco by steam train. I’d love to have seen that.

Anna: Mine are finding out fragments of the stories of Emily Knuckey, Gracie Briney and the left behind women, stories of survival and resilience. It’s also been great seeing the town through Sue’s eyes and her connection to it.

Ciaran: Re-enlivening the Redruth market with The Ballad of Gracie Briney is the most exciting one for me: I get chills every time I listen to Claire singing Anna’s words.

What is the most unusual sound you have recorded in your career?

Ciaran: This is tough, but probably my friend Jordan screaming, “I’m the riskiest comique in the biz” underwater into a pair of hydrophones in a swimming pool in Camden. We got some looks.

Personally, what do you enjoy most about Sound Walks?

Sue: They can create at best, a whole other way of experiencing a place.

How would you describe the experience to someone who has never done something like this before?

Ciaran: Put your headphones on, press play, and lose yourself in the audio for forty minutes.

Image of Claire Marshall

High Street Sound Walks are being launched as part of Heritage Open days and will be available from 10 September 2021. For more details on each of the Sound Walks, visit: www.HistoricEngland.org.uk/SoundWalks

High Street Sound Walks is a commission by Historic England, National Trust and Heritage Open Days with support from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and produced by Sound UK. It is part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme, led by Historic England.

The High Street Sound Walk for Redruth is produced in association with Carn to Cove.

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