Avon Stories podcast #14: Site singing at Over Bridge with Ellen Southern

Ellen Southern is a vocal artist, whose Site Singing project includes visiting lesser-known heritage sites, and making vocal pieces responding to the spaces, alongside drawings, photos and writing.

I met Ellen when she was performing a piece under the Avon Bridge, as part of a walk, and I was delighted when she invited me to come and visit one of her sites, Over Bridge.   This is a beautiful, abandoned bridge to nowhere on the River Severn in Gloucester, and we explored the space together, while she told me more about the bridge, and why she loves it.

Ellen also talked about using her voice in her art, and using her voice to explore spaces.   I’m really grateful to her for sending me some of the pieces she recorded on our trip, that are included in the podcast.

While we were there, I took photos with my medium format and 35mm cameras, and my mobile phone, and you can see them in this Flickr album (click on the first photo to start the slideshow).

Over Bridge

You can find out more about Ellen Southern on her website, and follow her on facebook and twitter.   Her Site Singing project is documented on her blog, with writing, drawing, and of course, music, and there are also recordings on Bandcamp.  There’s also an interview with her about the project on South Art Text.

Ellen is also in a band, Dead Space Chamber Music, and they are on facebook, twitter and bandcamp.

There’s more information about Over Bridge on the English Heritage website.

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You can download this podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up for all the future podcasts via the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud to make sure you hear all the future stories.  You can also follow the project on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the rivers and water in Bristol.

Repeating a walk: November adventure from Pill down the Avon

It took me a long time to be happy with the fact that a lot of my practice involves repetition and re-visiting places to see how they look at different times.   I think part of this is doing a photography degree, where no project lasts more than 5 or 6 months, and each time it’s about doing something new.  But one of the things my final project – and even more, my post-uni life – taught me was the value of the everyday, and how re-visiting can add depth and value in ways that continually jetting off to exotic new places can’t.

When I walked from Sea Mills across the M5 motorway bridge and down the Avon with my friend Tracy Homer in the summer, we talked about how we should definitely take that walk again, and see how it looks in different seasons, and what else we can discover.  So last week we did it again, with changes – our November walk to see how the autumn looks.

Map, and click on the flickr album to see more photos, taken with my DSLR + 50mm lens and my Olympus XA2 35mm film camera.  Below I have a selection of my favourite photos and thoughts about the day, along with some mini films and some sounds I recorded.

Wind on the Avon

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A walk from Filton to Eastville along the Frome

Last week I was up in Filton, recording the podcast with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, and afterwards, since I was up in that neighbourhood, I walked down through the Stoke Park Estate, and along the Frome.

Stoke Park was beautiful – completely empty on this hot, summer day, with the sounds of crickets, birdsong, ‘planes overhead, and the M32 thrumming in the distance.  It’s somewhere I’ve only been once before, and I really should find out more about it, especially the strange ruins.

Stoke Park Estate

I have a thing about being underneath roads, so in the tunnel under the motorway, I recorded the sounds – under, and then next to it:

After Stoke Park, I went down to the Frome, starting at the weir at Broom Hill.  Clambering over the sluicegate to stand on the end of the weir, I put my disposable underwater film camera into the weir, for different views of it.  I love these three especially

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Filming (and failing to photograph) fish in the Harbour

I always love the fish in the Harbour – from spotting big fish, to the shoals of tiny fish-lets that are in the shallowest parts of the Harbour on the sunny days, flashing silver as they dart in shoals.  I took this photo, which was a fantastic failure, but when I borrowed my friend Tim’s GoPro, one of my goals was to get some films.

This was a beautiful, mellow, sunny day.  I’d met my friend Matt Gibson for coffee at the Underfall Yard, and our walk lasted about 2 minutes before we stopped by the western jetty and slipway by the Nova Scotia.

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The sound of Horfield Brook

On Tuesday I was over in St Werburghs, and I went home via Mina Road Park, which always fascinates me.  From the road it looks like a pretty nondescript urban park, albeit with the incredible iron urinal – but it has a river running through it, Horfield Brook.

It’s a short stretch, but it’s been looked after, with viewing platforms, planting and decorative bridges.  At the north-west corner of the park it disappears into the old factory site, and there’s a pair of concrete slabs in the water, I guess to control the flow a little, and it sounds like this:

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A bad photography day – and regaining my equilibrium

I often walk along the River and the Harbour with my partner – it’s not the quickest way to town from home, but it’s a diversion to take photos and enjoy the city, and it usually adds layers of interest and fun to days that would otherwise be about chores…  except sometimes it doesn’t.

Continue reading “A bad photography day – and regaining my equilibrium”