Examples of works from the Anima Mundi project, made during my recent AA2A residency at Liverpool Hope University. The project title is a reference to the ancient hypothesis of an intrinsic connection between all living things: the existence of the Earth’s soul.
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Aiming to shift rational meanings derived from ‘horticulture’ or ‘botany’ to the more expressive and provocative. The acorn seedlings literally gave life to the works, in this case appearing like flames on altar candles.
For further background detail about this project please visit For further background detail about this project please visit
http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/28280/new-art-growing and here: http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/27787/anima-mundi
With cabinet maker Stuart Williams, in his workshop near Garstang, Lancashire.
A small selection from my ongoing project Anima Mundi is on show in ‘inprogress’, a group exhibition by three artists participating in the AA2A project at Liverpool Hope University. The Cornerstone Gallery, 11th – 22nd April 2016.
Project research and development:
I planted approximately 300 acorns during October and November 2015 and watched them grow over the winter months.
In October 2015, I began a residency at Liverpool Hope University through AA2A (Artists Access to Art Colleges). Its a fantastic UK national scheme that supports artists and allows them access to workshops and facilities over several months to undertake a period of research or realise a project. Being part of the AA2A scheme at Liverpool Hope is opening up an exciting ‘laboratory’ where I can work with others to trial relevant processes, techniques, imagery and materials, as I move towards the next phase of activity. There is information here at the AA2A.biz website.
Responding to the Art School atmosphere.
The Cornerstone Building at Liverpool Hope University was once St Francis Xavier School and the building, an imposing example of 19th century architecture has been converted for its current use as an art school. One of the pleasures of my AA2A placement has been having the time to meander through the building, absorb and respond to its mood and atmosphere. There are many stairways linking different areas of the building – workshops, studios and performance areas. I enjoyed using my camera to document the layered traces of the movement of others: the marks and patina that tacitly signal what kinds of activity are permitted and encouraged in the building.
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A collaboration with director Mark Gill and The Chase Films, has resulted in a short film capturing the atmosphere and immersive qualities of the Northampton gallery installation. It features edited excerpts from the gallery soundscapes and makes links to a series of quizzical, material artworks that were ‘heard’ in the initial audio recordings, and then made and displayed in the gallery. The use of headphones is recommended for maximum immersion and dynamic, binaural sound.
Listen: see what you hear…
By spending time in the Northampton gallery I’ve been able to have some great conversations with many inspiring people.
Here is a selection of comments written in the visitors’ book by some of the people I didn’t get to meet in person.
A great collaboration between sound, materials and the awareness of oneself in a fictional world created in the imagination. I truly was immersed in the experience. Great use of materials to bring it all to life. The various textures, use of lights, the crunch of leaves in an imaginary space. To the moon and back by night. Your consciousness definitely touched me. Thank you.” David
Poses lots of questions, but not in a disturbing way. I liked the contrast between the marked floorboards (permanent impression) and the image / reflection (impermanent). We should think more about our impact than about our appearance.” Amy (on Election Day 2015).
The eye is a genie. He’s got trapped in a box because he got lost. He can come out if you say the magic word.” Poppy (age 4)
Once I’d realized that this wasn’t going to tell me all about shoes I found this quite fascinating. Most interesting as a music teacher (primary) I found this inspiring as a starting point for creative music making. What a shame I’m retired now- first time I’ve said that!” Jane
A wonderful focus on the concept and felt experience of embodiment and connection. Grounding and liberating, beautiful and spacious. If more of us were embodied more of the time and knew how to re-connect with body and self then that would help a sense of containment and freedom that can heal and restore using the senses – intra and interpersonal well being. With appreciation.” G.Y. Core Process Psychotherapist.
Filming in the gallery 18.05.15.
Working with award winning director Mark Gill. An exciting opportunity to explore sensory connections and convey the ideas and atmosphere of the gallery project, through another medium.
“Women are the toughest to imitate.”
Jack Foley started in the motion picture business in the silent picture era and lived through the exciting times when overnight the industry converted to sound moving pictures. Jack is credited with pioneering the art of adding sound effects after the action had been filmed, because the sound captured in the film studios and with a camera during the live action, did not record sound in a ‘realistic’ way.
Jack estimated that he walked 5000 miles in the studio doing footsteps. He characterized the footsteps of stars in this manner:
Rock Hudson is a solid stepper; Tony Curtis has a brisk foot; Audie Murphy is springy; James Cagney is clipped; Marlon Brando soft; John Saxon nervous. Women are the toughest to imitate,” he confided, “my 250 pounds may have something to do with it, but the important thing is their steps are quicker and closer together. I get winded doing leading ladies. Jean Simmons is almost, not quite, the fastest on her screen feet in all of Hollywood. She’s topped only by June Allyson. I can’t keep up with her at all.”
Conversation with John Griff about the ‘Making Presence Felt’ project, on BBC Radio Northampton’s afternoon show 23.04.15. From BBC iPlayer.
A series of acoustic encounters.
In the gallery a collection of quizzical material objects act as thought provoking ‘clues’ and the audio content draws on memories to make connections and encourage imaginative sense making…
Below you can listen to an introductory footsteps soundscape from the project, with a beautiful piano composition and playing by Pietro Bonanno, ‘Ferma la Danza’ ( Stop the Dance) from his album ‘Komorebi’.
There are 10 interrelated tracks including this one in the audio component of the exhibition, ranging from 1 to 3 minutes in duration, just over 20 minutes in total. The audio content is pitched on the borderline between sound and music and includes documentary field recordings with more experimental collage. Each soundscape involves a different approach to conveying traces of presence and identity in acoustic form. In this track footsteps are heard moving over wooden floors and the recordings were made in contemplative, public spaces: museum, art gallery and including in a church. As I edited and mixed, I let the music guide me and tried to match the footfall cadence, tone colour and timbre to the piano’s.
You can hear the resonance of floorboards: the spring in the wood and voids beneath; the creak of leather; the acoustics of space and place; sounds of intention, emotion, mood, gender, weight, velocity, force, character; in motion…
(use of headphones is recommended).
You can hear more of Pietro Bonanno’s compositions at http://www.pietrobonanno.it
Here are some images of visitors moving, listening and looking in the Northampton gallery on the first day of the exhibition. The lighting is designed to allow individuals’ shadows to play onto the gallery walls to add a further layer of ambiguity and motion to the atmospheric environment.
Making Presence Felt has opened to the public at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.
A collection of material exhibits have been designed to cross the senses and to work as prompts or ‘clues’ to a series of sound stories. The audio and visual elements combine to connect listeners to traces of human presence that can be heard and felt, rather than only seen.
Visitors listen via headphones to the acoustic rhythms of footsteps on the stairs, city pavements, rush hour in the subway, running, dancing, wandering in woodland. Haptic, immersive audio combines with the static material exhibits to trigger imaginative mental imagery and bring attention to the body in motion. On another level, the ambiguity of the shadowy gallery presentation offers the potential to cross over into less conscious, metaphorical themes: of containment and release, escape and pursuit, repetition and the random. Where fact and fiction merge…