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By: Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva
I have been offered a one year fixed term post of Artist in Residency in the Faculty of Media, Art & Communications. I will be based at Gloucester Cathedral and have been provided with a living accommodation and a studio in close proximity to the Cathedral. I will be also required to work and do approx. 30 days of teaching at the University of Gloucestershire.
# 15 [14 May 2009]
The installation of the work was planned to take place on the 18th and the 19th of April but this extended it into the forthcoming week.
My partner and me managed to position the speakers on all four walls but we couldn’t install the full equipment as two of the outputs were faulty and had to be returned and exchanged.
The new equipment eventually arrived on Tuesday the 21st and we continued with the set up. For the next 9 days I was wiring the speakers and gluing the cables to the walls (as I was not aloud to fix the cables to the walls I had to use silicon glue gun to secure them).
Although everything was booked weeks in advance there were still many problems.
Literally my troubles continued, constant complains from some of the staff, double bookings of dates… I had to move the equipment from the chapter house to an electric cabin near by, and although all the cables were very neatly positioned there was still not satisfaction! I guess some people are never satisfied and they’ll never be happy no matter what you do they’ll always find something to complain about!
# 14 [14 May 2009]
The bird heads became an issue, they have been refused and I was told that I couldn’t exhibit them inside the Cathedral.
I was given the option to show them in the Cloisters but I decide that this was not an appropriate space, because of the sound installation, and they should be seen in a separate space.
These didn’t give me much choice, as there are not many covered outside spaces and after long discussion and few meetings I have been aloud to use the outside gateways of the Cathedral into College and Millers Green.
The original idea was to make-preserve 40 heads of ducks, chickens and pheasants and place them on top of the original architectural fixtures - angels, which heads have been broken or removed inside the Cathedral. Where their strange beauty and elevated status will draw attention to the ambivalence of our relationship with birds, whom we both protect and preserve as well as exploit.
Then I asked for permission to take moulds of two original angels and cast them.
This was very easy and with no problems I had the scaffolding put up for me and when ahead with the mould making, and made two different moulds.
A week later I had 40 casts made in plaster and two weeks later I had them all cleaned and finished. Thanks god to Jess and Holly who came to the rescue and helped me with the painting work.
I decide it to use the colours and the stencil design from the Altar and paint the angels.
# 13 [6 May 2009]
Also this week I meet the new candidates, there were four shortlists, and interestingly all four men, they came overnight for next day interviews for the next year residency. Was very interesting to see how they performed on the night at the dinner. It only reminded me of year a go and I must have been the same nervous and very careful with my questions and answers… I really felt for them.
On March the 26th I did a lecture at the University of Gloucestershire and on the 2nd of April did second lecture at Artist Studio in Stroud called SVA, very interesting place. Both lectures when very well and there were many people intrigued by the work.
I sat for days editing the men and female recordings and cleaning all the small clicks on the birds recordings given to me by the Wildlife sound recording society.
I had to be finished by Saturday the 4th of April as I had the sound suite booked at the University of Gloucestershire where together with Andrew Lansley, who’s been helping me finalise the sounds, we did a days work. It was amazing we cleaned all the edits and finalised all the volumes of all 130 tracks. I expected these to take days but Andrew’s knowledge and experience just showed me how quick is to do something when you know what you are doing.
This week was also the week when I found out that I have upset one person at the Chapter house and this person was not happy for me to go ahead and use the birds heads in the Cathedral.
# 12 [1 May 2009]
Sorry haven’t written in days it has been very hectic here at the Cathedral. The last month was a bit of a leaving nightmare for me. With complains and last minute changes to one section of the final exhibition work, double bookings with my final exhibition date and time of the opening and with terrible delays in orders and payments for the equipment and the final install.
I will write these last few weeks and go back with my blog.
Trees got delivered on the 17th and 18th of March, and we began with the planning and digging of the Garth. David Booth and Bill Burford with 7 students helped with all the digging and planting of the trees. The weather was beautiful and we had three very productive days, by Friday pm Bill and myself complete the garden.
# 11 [11 March 2009]
I meet a very nice couple this morning Mr and Mrs Wilkin. They are the owners of Pinetum Lodge an amazing place in the middle of Highnam Woods. Andrew, myself and Barry Embling from RSPB when to look at the site which we will use for the relay of the Nightingales and got introduced to Mr & Mrs Wilkin. We talked about the project and the possibilities of using they internet for the life relay of the bird sounds – the Nightingales. We also when to look at the area of where the microphones could be placed and were Barry anticipates that the Nightingales will come back in April.
Last Saturday I when to the Community meeting at the Chapter House where I presented my project to about 80 members and asked if any member of the Cathedral Community might sponsor one of the trees which will be planted in the Garth (Cloister garden). I have three members saying definite yes and two people both wanted the Silver Birch. Unfortunately as there is only one Silver Birch I had to go with the first person and I really hope that the second person comes back and chooses another tree!
The delivery of the trees and shrubs is on the 17th and 18th of March and the planting on the 18th, 19th and 20th of March. After a great struggle with Hartpury College, who pulled out last minute from the project, because they found my work to “challenging and controversial” I have contacted the Landscape Architects department at the University of Gloucestershire and thanks to David and Bill they are coming to help with few of they students.
# 10 [5 February 2009]
There has been two very busy and up and down weeks, but have to say things are progressing for the better now.
Is amazing how now I am actually starting to feel that I am being a part of these place and starting to get to know people...would be almost good if there where extra 6 months to this residency... By the time you get to know these place I would be living which is a shame.
Well I still have 4 months left.
I am happy to say that I have had a successful application to the ACE for extra funding to help with the production and the succsesful delivery of the exhibition and its publicity.
My recording sessions with the men choir have also been great and in the last two weeks we have managed tocover all the recording I need.
Originally I wanted to record the boys as well but these has proven very difficult so slowly the idea has been changing and developing in slightly different direction. Which in fact is brilliant because the idea has progressed and now shifted and I will be recording four amazing Ladies which will be singing different piece but still very similar to the one the men did.Now I am organising and getting all these booked, which sometimes is a small task, making sure the Cathedral is booked for after Evensong, the most quietest time, making sure everyone knows about it and getting a date when everyone can be present.
# 9 [16 January 2009]
The last few weeks have been very busy and exciting with contacting and meeting particular individuals and expertise to advise and work with me on the project.
Starting from Mr Barry Embling, working at the Forest of Dean and expert on Highnam Woods, who will be working with and helping me with the setting of the life broadcast/recording from the Woods to the Cloister. We are also in discussion of organizing couple of public evening visits to the Highnam Woods, for visitor to experience the beautiful sound of the Nightingales.
Mr Gareth Harris from the Cotswold Water Park, who spend generous amount of his time with me at the beginning of the development of the project and helped me to construct the idea of which bird sounds I could use and put me in touch with other experts from the County.
Mr. Michael Smart and expert on the Severn Vale, has introduced me to other professionals that could help with the project, for example Mr Andy Lewis from the North Cotswold Ornithological Society, has already been in touch and we spoke regarding collection of bird images and further species for Cotswold Hills, and the Bird Atlas which is being developed and printed. Mr. Smart has also introduced my project to the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to support the project through their knowledge and advice, and possibly use this exhibition to assist their publicity and make audiences more aware about ecology and birds.
Mr Smart has also introduced me to contact the WSRS - Wildlife sound
Recording Society – to see if they could help with all the bird song recordings.
With initial phone conversation with Mr Roger Boughton from WSRS, has proven to be of success and followed a meeting with Mr Phil Riddett last Saturday in Brighton, where we discussed the project and the possibilities.
Mr Riddett has initially send an email to all the WSRS members to seek the recordings and the offers have been coming in and so far there is 51 recordings, which have been posted to me to work on and developed in parallel with the human voices.
# 8 [9 December 2008]
Looking back in history the Cloisters and its gardens use to be the only place, within the monastery at the time and now as a Cathedral, where the silent monks could talk and have a conversation.
The work I am developing is based on Thomas Tallis’s (ca. 1505 - 1585) remarkable 40-voice Spem in alium, which work challenged the Striggio's 40-part Ecce beatum lautam.
The installation will consist of 40 individual sounds, played by 40 speakers.
The idea is to have 24 speakers that will play recorded sound, 12 speakers that will transmit live sound from the Garden of the Cloisters into the Cloisters and 4 speakers that will broadcast live sound from a nearby woods (2km air distance), again into the Cloisters.
The 24 single pre-recorded sounds are collections of human voices and bird songs. I would like to use the natural layout of the cloister and the idea is for each of the four sides of the cloisters to represent the four main natural areas of the Gloucestershire county: Forest of Dean; Severn Estuary and Vale; Cotswold Hills; and Cotswold Water Park, with sounds of typical birds from each area.
At present I am working with the Gloucester Cathedral Music Director Adrian Partington and recording the boy’s and men’s choir singing Gregorian chants used by the Monks back in time, in groups and as individual voices.
Once the sounds of the birds are collected then this will be matched with the human voices and developed into Gregorian chants.
# 7 [19 November 2008]
I am just back from Macedonia, where I when for a week to see my family and also to find out how things are developing with the Venice Biennale. I am not sure If I said this already in my previous pages, that I have been put forward and proposed through the National Gallery of Macedonia to represent the country in the next years Biennial, with my project “Butterflies in the Stomach’. I met with my Curator from the National Gallery and she told me that is only three of us in the final shortlist and now I am waiting for the final outcome, which should be hopefully the end of this month or next month. Is very painful and I am trying no to think about it…. Macedonian Magazine Forum did a brilliant three-page interview about my work and my progress in England. And Macedonian paper called Vreme (Times) also publicized an article about my proposed project for the 53rd Venice Biennale.
Now back at Gloucester and things are moving very well, slowly planning the work for the final exhibition in April. I’ve been having lots of meeting with different people and working through the ideas. Tonight is my first night where I’ll start with the filming/photographing the ground floor of the Cathedral and will be testing the light and the sound in the space.
# 6 [29 October 2008]
Very cold day out here in Gloucester, I am trying to work out if it is colder outside or in my house/studio. Trying so badly to worm up that I am using all my energy at the moment.
Very productive week already: On Monday I had a meeting with George Moore who runs the Wired youth music project out of the Guildhall and is in a band called Big Blue Sun. Thanks to Pat Roberts, Visual Arts and Media Development Officer at Gloucester Council who put me in touch, I met with George who’s very interested in getting involved with the sound piece I am hoping to produce in the cloister of the Cathedral. We also when to the Guildhall to see the editing equipment and was so brilliant that in 10 min I was signed in with a password and now I can use the equipment. Is brilliant, George is also lending me one of his hand recorders so I can play and try different things until I get my own little recorder.
Yesterday I when to Stroud to visit the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace) http://www.sva.org.uk/ Very interesting space that has been designed by Tony Fretton who’s also designed ArtSway, Camden Art Centre, the Lisson Gallery; SVA provides workshop space for local artist and has an exhibition space.
And today I am working in my studio and working out how to use one of my new tripod heads which I bought few months a go but haven’t had the chance to use it. It is a panoramic manfrotto head, very complicated but beautiful piece of equipment.
Born in Macedonian, installation / site-specific artist, now based in Brighton, UK. I graduated from Glasgow School of Art, BA in Sculpture in 1996 and obtained an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London in 1998. I have participated in many exhibitions, commissions and have received many awards. My works use unusual materials that resonate to the uniqueness of an environment, its history, heritage, population and color.