I've just had the pleasure of spending a few days at Newcastle Uni as part of their visiting artist programme - thoroughly enjoyed speaking to a really attentive theatre full of students and staff, the questions afterwards speaking volumes about the level of enquiry and explorative thinking of the fine art department.

After the talk spent some time with a small group discussion and then the rest of day one and all of day two was taken up with individual crit sessions during which I got to see and hear some really interesting work by those I met up with:

  vocal improvisations, graphic scores, field recording collages, hand built synths, internal electronics compositions, digital monitor glitching, ceramic teeth, honey and berries in clay figures, lemons as central figures in a play, silk hair and pig tongues, poetic opera projects and more.

Luckily my visit also coincided with the first year students one evening show which I managed to see. Pheobe (my daughter) has applied to Newcastle Uni herself and I have to say that meeting with some of the students and seeing / hearing their work has been really reassuring - not only of the open and supportive nature of the department but also the quality of the work and experimentation going on. So should any of the artists I met read this i'd like to thank them on a personal level - not only for that but for inspiring me also and allowing me to come away with a renewed sense of energy and playfulness. Whilst I always enjoy visiting uni's sometimes the rest of the 'business' side of being an artist can induce a bit of a fog at times and this visit really swept that away - so thanks indeed to all the artists I met (students and staff) at Newcastle's fine art dept - the future of art study in the north is in some safe hands there.

On Friday a small group of us set out in a minibus towards St. Mary's on the coast for a field recording trip. St Mary's itself was quite impressive but darn cold and windy ! from there, with Martin Eccles local knowledge, we headed to Seaton Sluice for fish and chips - I made the mistake of ordering the large haddock, which was about 2 or 3 times the size of the large haddock here in Yorkshire. After that we spent an hour or so exploring the sluice itself - quite a good location with plenty to listen to and record. We then headed back towards St. Mary's to scale barbed wire fences in order to attach contact mics to antenna cables and sit back in the van whilst we all recorded their drones and rattles. On the way back to the Uni we had time for one more location; an area of scrubland around a large lake - the noise of the A1 proving a bit much, but I contact mic'd some teasel plants and others tried hydrophones in the lake etc.

So, in terms of the artists I met on the trip, here's a small selection of some of their work - with thanks to them for allowing me to link to it here:

Sarah Grundy:

(Sarah's online archive of ideas and work in progress can be found here)

Jayne Dent:

site specific performance, bourree hold, of this graphic score:

(Jayne's wordpress site can be found here)

Ellen Welsh:

(Ellen's wordpress site can be found here)

I also found, via the folks I met, unstapledpress - whose sold-out publications can be viewed via issuu on their website here:


several of the artists I met also took part in a performance on Lindisfarne of this piece by Ditte Goard:

more to follow....


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