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By: Samantha Allan
Glenn Boulter will be working in and around Barrow AFC Football Club over the next few months and will deliver a piece of work for installation at the start of the 2008-9 season.The project is being led by artist and Barrow supporter John Hall with the support of Arts Council England, Cumbria Arts In Education, Aim Higher, Barrow Borough Council and partner schools from across Cumbria.
# 12 [4 August 2008]
Limited Edition Barrow AFC Prints
From Friday the 8th of August, Barrow fans will have the chance to to own their piece of art with a limited edition of prints that will be available to buy from the club shop.
The first in a series of works to be presented at the ground during the next six weeks, these limited edition lino prints depict two different views of the ground. Both images come in an edition of ten and are priced at £30 each, with all proceeds going to the club. Individual prints measure approx. 56 x 46cm, are signed and hand-numbered and come packaged in cellophane with a window mount . A larger edition of screen-printed posters priced at £6 will also be available later in the month.
Prints can be sent to UK and non-UK addresses with an extra charge for postage.
Contact the club shop for further details or email Glenn at: firstname.lastname@example.org
# 11 [4 August 2008]
The Barrow AFC Football Orchestra
During two sessions on the 15th and 16th of July, children from years 4 and 5 at Barrow Island Community Primary School were asked to compose and perform music based around a game of football. Using a variety of instruments and amplified objects, they were asked to respond to the movements of the ball and the players around the pitch. The majority of the children were non-musicians and were asked to play instruments including: open tuned guitars, a drum machine, an amplified computer keyboard, two large pebbles and a piano. Graphic notation was used to allocate sounds to different areas of the pitch in order to alter the tone of the music over a series of performances. Each group was given the task of devising their own score and organising the players accordingly.
Visit barrowafcdigital.blogspot.com to hear audio clips from the sessions - listen out for the final whistle (egg timer) and a slightly annoyed referee.
# 10 [29 May 2008]
Project Summary (3 of 3)
To accompany this, there will be also be an edition of books that will be available to buy from sellers around the ground and from the club shop. Examining the role of printed matter in recording transient events, this will be inspired in terms of its aesthetic by those obsessively encyclopaedic club histories produced by fans. Current favourites include: The Holker St. Greats Pt.2., The Definitive Barrow AFC, and The Colin Cowperthwaite Testimonial Programme. This idea follows on from earlier editions of artist’s books produced as co-founder of Earwig Books, a book arts imprint and studio originally based in London. Publications such as Walks in Leicestershire (2004), The Negative Album (2005) and Census (2006) have all taken specific geographical situations as starting points for investigating themes of locality and memory and how these affect our perceptions of a particular landscape. These works have all been made directly available to the non gallery-going public, being catalogued in public libraries, secreted in park bandstands and sold cheaply in village halls in order to make direct contact with the environment they address.
Similarly, the outcomes of the residency will be presented as a series of events and documents rather than as a traditional exhibition, and will require viewers to become an active participant in the work, whether it requires them to go for a walk around the pitch, play an instrument during a match or knit a scarf.
The results of the Barrow AFC Digital Residency will be presented at Holker St. in late August / early September.
Contact John Hall at email@example.com or Glenn Boulter at: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
# 9 [29 May 2008]
Project Summary (2 of 3)
The start of the residency coincided with me relocating from Leicester and has come as a welcome introduction to the area. Working from my studio space at the Canteen Arts Centre on Barrow Island and at the Bluebirds Study Centre, the project so far has seen me giving talks about my practice to members of the public and to students at Barrow sixth form College, being interviewed by the North West Evening Mail and running a workshop with children from Thorncliffe Secondary School, making postcard books in which to record the final matches of the season. Though trained as a printmaker, I currently work across a range of media and decided to approach the brief - to create a piece of digital (i.e. non-permanent) art - through a mixture of sound-based work and performance, using publications and print as a way of documenting and complementing this.
The sound pieces will explore the aural environment of the ground from the physical sounds of the game to the emotional response of the crowd as well as the acoustics of the site. These are being produced collaboratively with Midlands-based artist and musician Francis O’ Donnell Smith, with whom I started working during a residency at Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre. This saw us jointly develop a series of multi-media improvisations based around the city’s vanishing industrial architecture and has since led to us performing regular shows with a shifting cast of guest musicians and delivering a series of workshops for Creative Partnerships teaching methods of composition that rely on creating systems and parameters to generate music.
Before starting the project, I was especially keen to get back to working with text and spoken word and have since been looking at early experimental radio dramas with a view to eventually having a piece broadcast on Radio Cumbria during or following their regular match coverage. The written texts will be read by a local actor and will be made up of collaged sponsors’ adverts, transcribed commentary, fixtures and lists of players. Ideas that may feed into this include a composed piece of music based around the team’s history. This involves a series of simple musical motifs derived from past and present league tables, resulting in a compressed musical timeline with each group of notes following league positions for every year of the team’s existence. Another idea will see us recruiting an amateur orchestra (i.e. anyone who owns an instrument – they don’t necessarily have to be able to play it). We will then line up two sets of musicians along opposite sides of the pitch and asking them to make sounds in response to the movements of their team. The emphasis would not be on melody, but on the back and forth motion of the music, with the instruments being selected and/or open-tuned to create a general sound and to avoid ‘virtuoso-ism’.
# 8 [29 May 2008]
Project Summary (1 of 3)
As someone whose work in the past has taken inspiration from my local Co-op supermarket, a group of ramblers and a singer in a working men’s club, being chosen for a residency at Barrow AFC Football club has provided a valuable opportunity for me to further develop my interest in localised culture and models of social interaction.
Barrow AFC is a semi-professional football club, based in Barrow In Furness, South Cumbria and playing in the Blue Square Conference North, best described as Division 6 in the football pyramid.
For a club of its size in a town of approx 70,000, the club is very well supported. In a moderately successful season the Bluebirds can expect an average gate of over 1000, double the average for the level at which they play. The project’s theme is Football, Art and Community and is being led by artist and Barrow supporter John Hall with the support of the Arts Council England, Cumbria Arts In Education, Aim Higher, Barrow Borough Council and partner schools across the county. The residency involves researching and developing a piece of work for installation at the start of the 2008-9 season.
Despite not being a football supporter and having never attended a match as an adult, I was nonetheless interested in exploring objectively the idea of the game as a form of performance with its own attendant set of rituals. The Holker Street ground with its array of textured concrete surfaces, layers of royal blue paint and walls topped with broken glass, has a strong physical presence. Geographically situated at one of the town’s highest points, it looks out over the Duddon estuary, across to Black Combe fell and takes in housing estates, a cemetery and an Asda supermarket to its rear. Though relatively small compared to many football clubs, it is clearly an integral part of the community. This became clear from an early stage when myself and other short-listed candidates were invited to watch Barrow vs. Gainsborough Trinity (Barrow won 4-1) before being interviewed at the ground the following afternoon. Since beginning the residency at the end of January, I have regularly donned extra layers of clothing and journeyed to Holker Street on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons to see Barrow play, with the players often battling against fierce coastal winds and driving rain. As the season has progressed and the weather improved, I’ve gradually watched the crowds swell from 500 to almost 3,000, culminating in an open top bus parade through the town centre that celebrated the team’s promotion into the Blue Square Premier League earlier this month.
# 7 [16 May 2008]
Every Man His Own Football (pt.2)
A comprehensive selection of dramatically titled, fan-produced books on the team can be found in Barrow reference library. These range from simple photocopied and stapled books to the more luxurious hard bound (in a uniform royal blue). Highlights include:
- The Definitive Barrow FC. This one has a list of every player ever to play for the team.
- The Holker St. Greats Pt.2. Brilliantly concise statements summing up each player, such as: ‘Steve Brooks always gave 100%’, ‘Peter McDonnell, always a crowd favourite’, ‘Mick Richmond a popular attacking full back’, ‘Kevin Thomas the Jolly Juggler’ etc.
- Wembley 1990 FA Trophy Final – spiral bound scrapbook.
- The Colin Cowperthwaite Testimonial Programme
- A Dream Weekend
- Barrow AFC: In the Beginning There Was the End
- BAFC: The Postwar Years abounds with dramatic chapter headings:
The Saddest Season Ever, We Battle On, Pitch Ultimatum from League, Hughes Lasts 24 hrs Before McManus Steps in, 3,500 Witness City Thriller, Bring on the Wolves, Cup Dream Shattered, Two Out of Three In, Another Woeful Season, Gillingham’s Nightmare on Holker St., Vickers Steps in With Financial Help.
Another current influence is The Unfortunates by B.S Johnson.
"A sports journalist, sent to a Midlands town on a weekly assignment, finds himself confronted by ghosts from the past when he disembarks at the railway station and attempts to go about the routine business of reporting a football match."
The book is contained in a box, with twenty seven sections presented, unbound, to be shuffled and read in whichever random order the reader happens to take them.
“And what would the ‘bleeding librarians” do to The Unfortunates, Johnson wondered. “Would they bind it up like a Proper Book, the sods?” Some did of course.’
Quote from ‘Futurist Typography and the Liberated Text’ by Alan Bartram (British Library, 2005)
Other miscellaneous ideas:
- Produce a book printed on a series of microfiche films so that people have to go to the reference library in order to read it.
- Get fans and small children to draw portraits of every player who ever played for the team from imagination and compile them into sticker album.
- Make a special edition of the programme that is written entirely hand written / hand drawn.
# 6 [16 May 2008]
Every Man His Own Football (pt.1)
Another outcome of the project is to be an edition of books that will be available to buy from the club shop. This may take the form of a book/CD/DVD package that straightforwardly documents the work made during the residency or it may constitute a piece of work in itself. Examining the role of printed matter in recording transient events (such as a football match), this will be partly inspired in terms of its aesthetic and content by pre-existing fan-written histories and biographies of the club and its players and partly by the ethos of early avant garde publications such as Mayakovsky and Burliuk’s A Slap in the Face of Public Taste with it’s sackcloth binding and hand-stencilled lettering.
The contents will include a mixture of written texts, visual scores and photographs. These may be bound in separate sections and held together in a hard jacket similar to a library-bound musical score. Other possible formats include that of a broadsheet newspaper to be handed out at matches, following in the foot steps of the little-known journal Jedermann Sein Eigner Fussball (Every Man his Own Football)… 'Walter Mehring claimed to be responsible for the unusual distribution methods used for ‘Jedermann Sein Eigner Fussball’, dated 15th Feb. 1919, costing 30 Pfennigs… “We hired a char-a-banc… and also a little band, complete with frock coats and top hats, ho used to play at ex-servicemen’s funerals. We, the editorial staff, paced behind, six strong, bearing bundles of Jedermann instead of wreaths. In the sophisticated west end of the city we earned more taunts than pennies, but our sales mounted sharply as we entered the lower-middle class districts of North and East Berlin.”
This combined the ambition of a newspaper with the niche marketing of an artists’ book. However, it was surpressed immediately and remaining copies destroyed.'
From ‘Futurist Typography and the Liberated Text’ by Alan Bartram (British Library, 2005)
# 5 [16 May 2008]
Music for Barrow AFC (pt.2)
2) During the residency so far, we have been experimenting with using contact microphones to record otherwise undetectable sounds.
“By attaching it to a flat surface, the mic transforms vibrations in materials into audio signals and, just as the positioning of an acoustic mic will affect the sound picked up, so the sound from the contact mic can be changed with different positioning.” (We got these from: www.Bugbrand.co.uk – a great site for anybody interested in analogue effects units and circuit bending).
As well as applying these to instruments, we have been using them to record the sound of everyday objects and recently led a series of school workshops in which we created an entire orchestra with items from Wilkinsons’ gardening section. Over the next month we intend to apply these to a game of football, including feet stamping on the terraces, the ball hitting various surfaces and the monitoring and sound experimentation of players’ heartbeats/respiratory systems as well as the possibility of placing a device inside the ball itself during a match or training session. The resulting sounds may then be manipulated and/or looped in real time before being relayed back to the tannoy for live playback.
3) A third idea would see us recruiting an amateur orchestra (i.e. anyone who owns an instrument – they don’t necessarily have to be able to play it) by handing out leaflets at a match. We would then line up two sets of musicians along opposite sides of the pitch (East and West, not goal ends). They would be asked to play a certain note or a specified key corresponding to the movements of their team. The emphasis would not be on melody, but on the back and forth motion of the music and the instruments would be tuned or chosen to avoid ‘virtuosoism’.
4) Miscellaneous ideas:
a) Sound experiments with crowd recordings – Chants and songs.
b) Make a list of every player ever to play for the club. Ask fans to recite them.
c) Old adverts for defunct local businesses – sing/recite these.
d) Scarves with texts woven in to be chanted by the wearer.
e) Pitched rattles / pint glasse.
f) Use specially designed ground markings to paint a graphic score directly onto the pitch.
g) Find early silent films of football and perform live soundtracks. E.G. Die elf Teufel / The Eleven Devils (1927)
# 4 [16 May 2008]
Music for Barrow AFC (pt.1)
“Music is something one takes before or after the meal, but never the meal itself.” Giorgio De Chirico, No Music (1913).
Below are some ideas so far for creating a piece of music for the ground, with the aim of exploring an overall concept of football as a performance involving players and spectators. Utilising a mixture of field recordings, music and spoken word to look at ways of using the ground as a place to experiment and ultimately as a stage in itself.
1) One idea is to develop a piece of music based around the team’s history and current fortunes. This would involve creating a series of simple musical motifs derived from past and present league tables, resulting in a compressed musical history with each group of notes following league positions for each month of every year of the team’s existence. Breaking each season down into a series of mathematically generated musical modules with major and minor keys representing success or defeat. An alternative (and perhaps more manageable approach to this would involve creating a smaller set of musical narratives based around famous players, events and goals in the club’s history. This draws upon the idea of the ‘Oracular lyre’ featured in the story Ka by Russian futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov, using a pythagorean correlation between musical tones and historical chronology. Taking this one step further, it may be possible to generate a short piece of music that changes every week with the team’s fortunes throughout the year, and is performed at each match by a volunteer instrumentalist/soloist drawn from the supporters, reporting musically on the previous match.
# 3 [16 May 2008]
A Song for Barrow AFC (pt.2)
Trevor Wishart “began working with recorded sounds in 1969. In reaction to death of father, a factory worker, abandoned conventional composing, bought small portable tape-recorder and collected sounds of machinery in workshops, foundries and power stations. Set up directed improvisation route-map for small chorus to imitate, then transform, these sounds. Recordings of the improvisations, plus machine sources and contemporary news items (Apollo 11 moon shot) formed basis of Machine, an electronically preserved dream (1970).”
French composer Eliane Radigue's graphic scores for Trilogie de la Mort are a set of logarithmic curves printed onto transparent paper then overlaid onto manuscript paper to create a series of sustained rising tones.
Alan Tomlinson is a trombonist who performed from a mobile chip van in Yorkshire. "In November 2003, artist and promoter Simon Thackray created a new duet. He put London based Improvising trombonist Alan Tomlinson together with a Fish and Chip van. Alan was booked to blow the horn to herald the arrival of the van and perform a short concert to the Fish and Chip van queues in each village."
We have also been looking at other pieces that use the human voice in innovative ways, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen's Stimmung and Gesang der Junglinge and Einstein on the Beach by Phillip Glass.
Glenn Boulter is a visual artist and musician based in Cumbria. As co-founder of artists' book imprint Earwig Books, his handmade editions such as Walks in Leicestershire, The Negative Album and Census have all taken specific geographical areas as starting points for investigating themes of locality and memory and how these affect our perceptions of the landscape. His work as a member of performance group Aurelie has included a residency at Leicester's Haymarket Theatre, devising scores for non-musicians, educational workshops in sound art and regularly performing improvised music in galleries and arts centres around the country.