16 Aug 21

High Street Sound Walks: interview with Sandra Kazlauskaite

Image of Sandra Kazlauskaite - High Street Sound Walk artist for Grantham

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 Sandra Kazlauskaite, the sound artist creating the sound walk for Grantham, to find out more about the sound walk, the key themes, stories and sounds that are being explored, Sandra's relationship to the area, what she hopes 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?

This sound walk is an auditory exploration of Grantham’s High Street narrated through the voices of the local residents and the field recordings collected within the town. Overall, it is a rather abstract, almost cinematic, sonic journey that tells the story of the first female police officer who worked in Grantham, as well as the local people’s memories of first cinemas, Portuguese cafes, the local shopping centre/hotel from the 18th century and the historically famous market.

Sandra Kazlauskaite interviewing a Youth Club member.

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

My hope is that the listeners of the sound walk will immerse themselves in the auditory journey and familiarise themselves with the sonic landscape of Grantham High Street - a collection of memories told and retold by different generations.

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

I have been working as a sound artist since 2006-2007, producing sound installations and sound performances for galleries and experimental music venues.

Since graduating with a degree in sound and media, I began to develop an interest in field recording practice and the archive, using them both as instruments, and have been producing works that explore political histories and changing landscapes through soundscape composition and audiovisual gallery-based pieces. Memory and collective reflection has always been an important part of my conceptual interrogation.

Sandra Kazlauskaite at Day Break, a personalised day centre for young adults with learning and/or physical disabilities.

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

Grantham was a new place for me. I was aware that Grantham was Margaret Thatcher’s birthplace. I anticipated that the piece would revolve primarily around her legacy and stories. Simultaneously, however, it was important for me to ensure that the content of the sound walk would emerge from the local residents. As someone who entered Grantham as an observer, I did not want to steer or shape the people’s stories.

I met with different groups - Grantham Civic Society, Grantham’s Blind Society, Grantham’s Daybreak Centre and Youth Club groups. The conversations and reflections they generously shared became the core sonic material that shaped the project, which was crucial to the process.

Sandra Kazlauskaite interviewing John B Manterfield from Grantham Civic Society.

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

I believe the story of PC Edith Smith - the first female police officer to have ever served is a very interesting one.

The local residents’ accounts of the market place, as told by younger and older voices, are fascinating, as they demonstrate some intergenerational links and differences, and their connection to the place.

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

The sound of melting glacier in Iceland. It is actually a very powerful, yet devastating sound.

Personally, what do you enjoy most about Sound Walks?

What I enjoy most about sound walks is their ability to transport us to a different place and time. The immersion that sound walks offer is, indeed, special.

Sandra Kazlauskaite in St Wulfram Church, Grantham.

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

Prepare yourself to be transported and immersed, but be mindful of the road crossings!

Sandra Kazlauskaite on Grantham High Street.

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 Grantham is produced in association with Emilie Nunn and South Kesteven District Council.

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