Site Singing featured in Speaking Visuals article

In November 2016, I was invited to be a featured artist for Speaking Visuals a Bristol-based art zine and blog. The article looks at broadly my practice, here is an excerpt:

“Bristol-based artist Ellen Southern takes experimental music to extraordinary new heights. Choral singer come performance artist, her work draws on the history of singing to create a fresh style rooted in vocal traditions. Having relocated to Amsterdam then Poland in the 1990s, disillusioned by an increasingly corporate, London-centric art world, she collectively set up an arts workshop and events venue, and has been devoted to multimedia practice ever since. Her current polyphonic (many-voiced) work seeks to instil the multi-dimensionality of fine art into contemporary sound performances.

Like with any visual medium, Southern uses sound as an expressive vehicle. Her work centres primarily on voice and diverts from common conceptions of classical music, influenced instead by Medieval, Early Renaissance, and Tudor scores. Removed from the grandiosity of classical traditions, she appreciates these periods for their more plaintive qualities and the inherent intimacy they impart upon audiences. Approaching music later in life, out of fascination rather than an aim to specialise, she considers herself free to dare with the potential for unexpected melody. Her layers of voice upon voice sung with varied intensities takes what may seem incongruent by established structures and shows they can in fact be rather harmonious.”


In the interview I go on to refer to the Site Singing project specifically:

“Southern’s emphasis on reading a space is reiterated by her solo project, Site Singing, in which she travels to English Heritage sites to interact with the acoustics of locations through sound. As her environs change – from an abandoned Victorian Bridge, to a medieval barn, to ancient Long Barrow ruins – she adopts new sounds to suit, completely discarding the conventionally ‘polite’ female voice. The “sound-sketches” she creates astonishingly use just her own voice and echo to create polyphonic forms and textures. It is a deeply sensory experience, motivated by a curiosity of the body’s capability, with mesmerising results. What recordings she does make are published to her online blog, inviting the listener into another form of immersion in which vocal works made in isolation can “be whispered via headphones directly into individual ears”. 

Read the full article here


speaking visuals - meet the artist ellen southern screengrab

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