River Sounding included a series of talks at Somerset House that explored themes and questions that arose out of the commission

Nicola Moorby

22 April, 18:45
Screening Room, South Wing, Level 2

Tate Britain’s curator Nicola Moorby will be exploring the relationship between Turner and the Thames through his paintings.

Nicola Moorby Talk by soundandmusic

This talk will trace the course of British artist J.M.W. Turner’s engagement with the Thames. Living by or near its banks throughout his life, Turner was endlessly fascinated by the river. From Oxford to the Estuary, he variously explored its views and moods, its cultural and national symbolism, and its historic and contemporary associations. Rich in meaning and visual effects, the Thames became one of Turner’s most frequently depicted subjects and by the end of his life had inspired some of his most innovative and celebrated works.

Nicola Moorby is a Curator at Tate Britain where she is currently part of the team preparing the Tate’s new online catalogue of the Turner Bequest. She is co-editor and author of How to Paint Like Turner, and has curated a number of exhibitions on the artist including Turner and the Sea at Tate Britain and Tate Liverpool (2005-6) and Colour and Line: Turner’s Experiments (2008-present). In addition to Turner she has previously published on Walter Richard Sickert and is co-author of the forthcoming Tate catalogue of works by the Camden Town Group.


Richard Wilson

29 April, 18:45
Model Ship Room, Level 3

Sculptor, installation artist and musician Richard Wilson revisits Bow Gamelan’s performances on the Thames through archival video.

Richard Wilson will talk first about his River Thames sound concerts played as a founder member of the Bow Gamelan Ensemble. The Bow gamelan (1983-1991) we’re a loosely based percussion ensemble who played self built instruments that almost defied description. Their approach to music took a radical stance with questions like “how do I make sound. This incorporated assorted metal, repetitive motorized machines, explosions, air and steam whistles, sirens coupled with gentler eerie sounds from glass and pyrophones. Wilson will finish up explaining his Millennium sculpture that comprises a sliced vertical section from a 240 foot sand dredger that stands in the river at Blackwall point.

Richard Wilson is one of the country’s most renowned sculptors.  He is internally celebrated for his interventions in architectural space, which draw heavily for their inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction.

Richard has exhibited widely both in this country and internationally for over 30 years and has made major museum exhibitions and public works in countries around the world.  He has also represented the UK in the Sydney, Sao Paulo, Venice Biennials and Yokohama Triennial.  He has been nominated for the Turner Prize twice, and was awarded the prestigious DAAD residency in Berlin in 1992.  One of a select group of artists who were invited to create a major public for London’s Millennium Dome, he is the only British artist to participate in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000. His work, entitled ‘Turning the Place Over’ was his contribution to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture.

Often singled out for his concentration on site-specific projects, it is Wilson’s name perhaps more than that of any other that has become synonymous with the idea of installation in Britain. His seminal installation 20:50, a sea of reflective sump oil, which is permanently installed in the Saatchi Collection, was described by one art critic as ‘one of the masterpieces of the modern age’

In 2006 Richard was elected a member of the Royal Academy and in 2008 he became an Honorary Doctor of the University of Middlesex.


Iain Sinclair

4 May, 18:45
Model Ship Room, Level 3

Iain Sinclair, celebrated writer, documentarist, film maker, metropolitan prophet, urban shaman and keeper of lost cultures discusses his current work describing a Thames walk.

Ian Sinclair by soundandmusic

Iain Sinclair has lived in (and written about) Hackney, East London, since 1969. His novels include Downriver (Winner of the James Tait Black Prize & the Encore Prize for the Year’s Best Second Novel), Radon Daughters, Landor’s Tower and, most recently, Dining on Stones (which was shortlisted for the Ondaatje prize). Non-fiction books, exploring the myth and matter of London, include Lights Out for the Territory, London Orbital and Edge of the Orison. In the ‘90s, Iain wrote and presented a number of films for BBC2’s Late Show and has, subsequently, co-directed with Chris Petit four documentaries for Channel 4; one of which, Asylum, won the short film prize at the Montreal Festival. He edited London, City of Disappearances, which was published in October 2006. His most recent book is Hackney,That Rose-Red Empire, published in February 2009.


Brandon LaBelle

Screening Room, South Wing, Level 2
27 May, 18:45

Artist and writer Brandon LaBelle presents an overview of interventions into architecture by artists working with sound.

The legacy of the sonic arts reveals a radical activation of architecture and public space, often incorporating acoustics and the environmental contours of auditory life into artistic work. Following such legacy and methods, LaBelle will aim to detail the micro-dramas found within sound and space. Vibration, interference, echo and transmission become figures in an expanded narrative that is equally about community, memory, difference and buildings. What forms of spatiality are generated through auditory experience, and how does listening lend to figuring shared spaces? LaBelle's presentation maps these points of concern as found within the sonic arts

In this project

Co-commissioned & Co-produced by

Somerset House
Sound and Music


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