Beacon Tower Commissions 2015 – 2022
Since opening in 2015 ESW’s Beacon Tower has hosted a succession of audio commissions. Made specifically for this iconic landmark these works have ranged from a transmission of recordings from past and present that changed with the tides, to a psychedelic, polemic on the politics of gardens. Facing onto the cycle path that connects Newhaven with the rest of the city these commissions have given passers by an unexpected and alternative encounter with contemporary art as they move about the city.
Influenced by signalling towers and factory cooling vents, the tower is visible from the heights of the city centre. It was designed by Sutherland Hussey Harris Architects as part of the development of ESW’s Creative Laboratories building which won the Arts Funding Prize for Edinburgh in 2010.
Ashanti Harris, OCHE, 2022
To accompany her exhibition Dancing a Peripheral Quadrille, Ashanti Harris presented OCHE as part of ESW’s Summer Programme 2022. This work consisted of a series of recordings made by the artist on a trip to Guyana, the birthplace of her father and the source of much of her cultural heritage. These recordings of ambient, natural sounds and conversations were cut together to create a soundscape that reveals the differences and connections between the U.K and the Caribbean and begins to unpick the complex relationship between the two countries and the diverse interchange of cultural influences that underpin the artist’s family history.
Ashanti Harris is a multi-disciplinary artist and researcher based in Glasgow. Working with dance, performance, sculpture and installation, Ashanti’s work disrupts historical narratives and reimagines them from a Caribbean diasporic perspective. As part of her creative practice, she is co-director of the dance company Project X – platforming dance of the African and Caribbean diaspora in Scotland; and works collaboratively as part of the collective Glasgow Open Dance School (G.O.D.S) – facilitating experimental movement workshops and research groups. She is also lecturer in Contemporary Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and co-facilitates the British Art Network research group The Re-Action of Black Performance. Recent commissions and exhibitions include: An Exercise in Exorcism, GoMA, Glasgow (2021) JUMBIES, Glasgow International, Glasgow (2021); This Woman’s Work, Third Horizon Film Festival, Miami (2021); Miraculous Noise, Viborg Kunsthal, Viborg (2021); OHCE, Radiophrenia, 87.9fm (2020); Being Present, OGR, Torino (2020); In The Open, The Common Guild, Glasgow (2020); The Index Impulse, Alchemy Film Festival, Hawick (2020); Pre-Ramble, David Dale, Glasgow (2020); The Skeleton of a Name, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2019)
You can discover more about Dancing a Peripheral Quadrille here and more about her wider practice here
Image credit: Harris Family Photos from Guyana Carnival 1987-2013.
Feronia Wenneborg: air leaking through, 2022
air leaking through by Feronia Wennborg was a polyvocal sound installation inhabiting the Beacon Tower and vibrating with its near surroundings. The building was reconsidered as a portal between public, domestic and imaginary space, a site for listening and drifting. The piece was developed through an instructional score, designed in collaboration with Céline Amendola. The score explores ways of navigating familiar environments through activities of listening, touching and vocalising. It was activated by the artist and collaborators Adriana Minu, Clarinda Tse and Alica Tserkovnaja at different times in their homes. Recordings made in this process were edited, merged and digitally transformed into a sonic landscape mingling with the environmental sounds of the exhibition site.
Feronia Wennborg is an artist, musician and arts programmer based in Glasgow. Her work is based in a process of recording and digital transformation, collecting traces of intimacy and friendship. Feronia often works in close collaboration with others, exploring the social and reimaginative possibilities embedded in practises of listening and sounding.
You can find out more about Feronia’s work here
Adriana Minu is an experimental sound/music maker that has set camp in the world of the senses. In her artistic research and practice she investigates how elements of our lived experience that precede language can be collected and used in creative ways. She likes collaborating with human and non-human entities whose sensory potential she attunes to using her body and voice.
You can find out more about Adriana’s work here
Clarinda Tse is an interdisciplinary artist, listener, facilitator, movement practitioner, Hong Kong-born and Glasgow-based. She works across being a sofa barnacle and a mutating muscle and is currently a committee member of Market Gallery, Glasgow.
You can find out more about Clarinda’s work here
Alica Tserkovnaja explores the current states of the body and it’s needs through a movement and listening based practice. She follows desires to move or to be moved, vocalizing what is or what is to be found. Through this improvisational practice Alica develops choreographic work as an artist and performer.
You can find out more about Alica’s work here
Céline Amendola is a Glasgow based artist whose work explores the potential of art to critique our interpretative habits. The use of varied techniques and media relating to cultures of craft reoccur in her practice to interrogate their cultural and historical background.
You can find out more about Celine’s work here
Raheel Khan, Land//Scape, 2021
To create Land//Scape sound Artist and Musician, Raheel Khan collaborated with long term ESW partners the Multi-Cultural Family Base to create a composition featuring found sound and recordings from the local landscape. Over a number of months Khan worked with a group of participants who were new residents of Edinburgh. He invited them to re-create their impressions of the city through sound recordings of the places they visit and the conversations they have as they work and socialise. These recordings were woven together with a new composition by Khan to create an overture to a city as seen through fresh eyes.
Raheel Khan is a Sound Artist, Producer and Pianist originally born in Nottingham and now based in Manchester (UK) His work explores notions of heritage, society and the inertia of cultural progression. Raheel combines field recordings, fragmented synthetic textures and Piano compositions often creating pieces with both personal memories and collective consciousness. His work dances between the private and public spheres creating an intimate archive of abstract social commentary from lived experiences.
You can find out more about his work here.
Jamila, Jana, Maya, Marwa, Iqra, Ibrahim, Hisham, Weam , Riam, Isam, Brassam, Karim all collaborated with Raheel in the making of this commission. They are connected with ESW through our partners The Multi- Cultural Family Base.
Image Credit: Drawing by Iqra one of the participants in Raheel Kahn’s project.
Alaya Ang & Hussein Mitha: Plotting (Against) the Garden, 2021
Plotting (Against) The Garden by Alaya Ang & Hussein Mitha was an intimate, critical and poetic sound installation that explored the politics of gardens, dream gardens, and the intersection between the garden and the city. Plotting (Against) The Garden brought together memories and stories by the artists to evoke embodied knowledge, ecological grief, and anti-colonial uprising, as well as the ambivalence of the garden as a form that keeps out as much as it lets in. The work emerged in dream-form through the urban structure of Beacon Tower, inviting listeners to contemplate the politics of gardens: Who owns the land? Who toils on it? Who does the garden exclude? How can we imagine a return to the land, to the commons, to a collective shared world beyond imperialist plunder and capitalist exploitation? Sound artist Cindy Islam has tenderly constructed the music and sounds, reactivating the seed-dreams laid to rest in gardens across cities and sites of ecological destruction. The ambisonic soundscape generates loops and layers of frequencies, field recordings and noise. Cindy Islam morphs sound as texture, to develop an acoustic collage that facilitates a deepened listening practice. Voices heard in the work are from Alaya Ang, Hussein Mitha, Armaan Verma and Martha Adonai Williams.
You can listen to the compositions on Sound Cloud here
Alaya Ang is a visual artist and curator based in Glasgow where they are gathering, collecting, sharing, dispersing, fermenting a practice that makes space for embodied knowledge and for the botanics and politics to be in cahoots. Their sense of collective way finding is articulated through collaborative projects that centre anti-racist, feminist and ecological values. They are interested in the radical potential of dreams and theimaginary as forms of recuperation.
You can find out more about Alaya’s work here
Hussein Mitha is a writer, and cultural worker living in Glasgow. Their practice aims to politicise aesthetics through working within revolutionary traditions and cultures against capital and empire. They are against all forms of art-washing, and are a signatory of Boycott Zabludowicz.
This work was made possible with the support and skills of Cindy Islam, Martha Adonai Williams, Armaan Verma.
Cindy Islam is a sound artist and performer who uses different monikers to create and generate projects. Sweeping under the radar and always changing in and out. Cindy Islam embodies the transitional space of being and becoming. Using sound as material space and using the ears as a vortex into healing, Cindy Islam believes in the practice of listening as a route to new futures.
Martha Adonai Williams is a writer, facilitator, organiser and friend. Her work considers the wilderness and margins as sites of resistance, refusal and homecoming. She works with writing and storytelling as tools for supporting wellbeing and as methods for community building. Her recent work has been shown as part of Fringe of Colour films and published in MAP magazine. She runs call&response black feministwriting community, programmes for Glasgow Zine Library and curates SBWN’s annual Metaphors for a Black Future programme.
Armaan Verma is a writer and student at the University of Edinburgh. When he is not running late for lectures, he may be found wandering aimlessly in Edinburgh’s book shops. He has been writing since he was eleven, when he published his first book, Glorious Greeks: Meet the Gods. His work has appeared in The Skinny, The Ogilvie, and HIMAL Southasian. If he ever makes it out of his University’s labyrinthine library, he intends to write frantically for the rest of his life.
Timothea Armour: This is Moth Death, 2021
This is Moth Death took the form of a radio drama set in a pub, this 24 minute audio work dramatised the ecology that surrounds The Beacon tower by finding parallels between the nocturnal life led in liminal urban spaces and the music, nightlife and accompanying subcultures that do the same; simultaneously thriving and constantly under threat from capital and redevelopment.
The audience were eavesdroppers on the conversation at a nearby table where a band is having a post-rehearsal pint. All of the band members are bats.
You can download a transcript of the work and a map of highlighting the pubs and bat activity of the local area here: mothdeathmap
Timothea Armour is an artist, writer (and bartender) living in Leith. She is interested in the ways in which social lives and networks of support can be documented in art and through writing and informal or amateur forms of knowledge and networks of distribution – anecdote, music fandom, field recording.
This work is a further exploration of the themes and ideas developed in The Neighbours are Bats, an ongoing collaboration between Timothea Armour, Esme Armour and Yasmine Akamune-Miles.
Adam Benmakhlouf: The Sound of Making Spills Over, 2019
The Sound of Making Spills Over is a collage of field recordings and accumulated audio and music, gathered in a sound poem that reflects the ethos of ESW’s Schools Programme which Benmakhlouf assisted on for two-years. The programme introduces primary school pupils to the ideas and processes of contemporary art, demanding planning, spontaneity and responsiveness to the context and participants. Adam’s practice mixes painting, writing, print, sculpture, sound and video. The works they produce reveal hints of autobiography, friendship and intimacy, which can be tender, honest and candid.
Following the exhibition we made the work available to listen to online here.
Watch an short interview where Adam Benmakhlouf introduces The Noise of Making Spills Over here.
Adam Benmakhlouf is a writer, artist and educator based in Glasgow, Scotland. Their work spans critical and creative experiments in writing, as well as animation, sound, theatre and drawing. Fantasy, labour and friendship are recurrent interests in their practice. These themes are understood and explored through Benmakhlouf’s lived experience of intersectional identity, as a mixed race and queer person from an underclass background.
Benmakhlouf is currently a PhD student working towards a Collaborative Doctoral Award titled Communal Words, funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities and jointly hosted by the University of Dundee and the public gallery Dundee Contemporary Arts.
Simon Kirby, Tommy Perman, Rob St John: Concrete Antenna, 2015 – 2016
Commissioned by Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop for the opening of the Creative Laboratories, Concrete Antenna was a site-specific sound work created by Tommy Perman, Professor Simon Kirby and Rob St John, which explored the past, present and future of the Workshop’s site.
Sound gathered from audio archives and specially made field recordings rises, falls, breaks apart and splices back together across multiple speakers throughout the 22 metre tall triangular concrete tower. The work evoked the site’s various histories as a blacksmith, a railway siding close to the Newhaven docks and now a thriving creative workshop beside a wildlife rich cycle route.
Using a range of unusual production techniques derived from the tower itself, the recordings – foghorns, train whistles, gas work demolition, birdsong, construction work, wind in fishing boat sails and many more – are slowly reshaped in the piece, coalescing from their original form to something new, musical and celebratory.
The installation responded in subtle ways to the state of the tide at Granton, the prevailing weather conditions, and the movement of visitors in the tower, creating a unique experience for every listener. In doing so, the tower becomes a concrete antenna, picking up impressions of the imagined sonic memory of the site, which mingle with the natural soundscape trickling in through a periscope-like gap at the top of the building.