Markus Feiler and I were very excited to open the mysterious tiny wooden door from the busy street to the crypt… and we warmly welcomed visitors to our finished installations for As Above So Below at 7pm on on the 11th of October, or, day 5 of our collaborative residency at the upper and lower churches (crypt) of St John on the Wall, Bristol. You can follow the work in progress leading up to the event on the previous posts on this blog.
This post documents all the artworks made, and the live performances by Ellen Southern and special guest Il Santo Bevitore (industrial / ritual / drone from London). We fundraised £55 for the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), who care for the building so well, at the event.
Archived event page for the Closing Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1155449174595391/
Archived event page for the Artist Residency: https://www.facebook.com/events/748883498776844/
An album of all the collected sound works from the residency, (including info on the making of each one), can be streamed from the Site Singing Bandcamp page , or heard directly from this embedded player:
As Above So Below: Exhibition Views
Individual Artworks: Graphite and Charcoal Rubbings
We showed a selection of the rubbings, and of mounted photographs of some of the rubbings ‘in situ’ on the graves of the floor, as we displayed them to the public during our open work in progress sessions.
Mirror Installation (with part of sound installation visible in shot)
Spatial Sound Installation from 2 sound sources either side of the space
This sound installation combines sound elements created collaborativley during the residency, bringing sounds from the upper church down to play out in the lower church – so allowing one space to resonate within the other. These include the sound of the harmonium including its ‘breathing’ (the bellow mechanism working but with no keys pressed), Ellen singing with the church bells in the upper church, and a psalm sung separatley from the same starting note – Ellen singing the upper part in the upper church, Markus singing the lower part in the lower church – the recordings then combined to create a slightly uncanny shifting togtherness.
The sound installation was spatially arranged to play out from 2 sound sources in the lower church (crypt) during the closing event. On the night, the two tracks were not equal lengths, so as they repeated and cycled they phased incrementally, creating ever new combinations and juxtapositions of sounds.
Visual Projection: silent moving image from the upper church was projected onto a tomb below
Markus’ Installation: mounted photographs of the modern ‘welcome’ station from the entrance of the upper church.
An installations of printed photographs placed above and below the windows. The geometric pattern suggests architechure, and the lead panes on the windows. The blurred images echo the moevemtn of passers by outside, just millimeters away, many of who might well not realise that the crypt is even there. One visitor made a very nice observation, that the walls of churches used to be highly decorated and with vivid coloured murals, fittings and sculptures. Having these bold colours present in the collection of works, became our way to evoke and honour this lost aspect of these spaces.
Ellens Installation: 3d drawing using images and fetures from the church above, arranged ‘scene-like’ on a tomb below
Included in the shadow-theatre-like piece were the two medieval wall sculptures we had seen on day 1 next to the site of the abandoned graveyard a couple of lanes away – which we later learned from a CCT volunteer, was in fact the graveyard of this church, and a local history group are trying the save the site. The wall figures are distored with age, they look like angels with lost limbs and worn off faces, and have been covered in gold paint. Ellen highlighted the elements of the installation with tiny brushes of gold paint, which glinted in the torchlight.
As Above So Below: Live Performances
Ellen Southern – Site Singing live performance, bringing the sound of bells from the upper church into the church below (lower church / crypt).
The sound samples used include Ellen improvising to the church bells ringing in the acoustics of the upper church, the sound of the harmonium ‘breathing’ (the bellow mechanism working but with no keys pressed), and the sound of the hand-bell (fire bell) being rung while walking procession-like down the central aisle of the upper church.
For the live performance in the church below – the lower church or crypt directly beneath, the walking was exactly recreated down the centre of the space with the same bell. So the recorded sound of the bell being rung in the church above combined with the live bell moving through the space below – the acoustics and different natural reverb of the two spaces accompanying each other. Southern also used live voice and loop pedals to blend the other samples from the upper church into the space ‘below’.Thank you to Matthew Faulkner for photos.
Il Santo Bevitore – special guest from London, provided an exhilarating and intense finale to the project, and worked in the space brilliantly.
“Inspired by ancient rites and practices, Il Santo Bevitore continues his ethnomusicological research on ethnic electronics. For As Above So Below, he presented his latest release, ‘Realm of consciousness’, an exploration about the theme of percussions and shamanism, the connection between each others, using repetition codes as a key to hypnotise and trance the listener. This work aims to blur the distance between practitioner and listener. Sound is a mixture of blackened tribal, ritualistic percussions, raw beats, lo-fi noise and hypnotic vocals ceremonials. The release features London-based healing practitioner and musician trained in shamanic practice, Lani Rocillo, on shamanic drum and vocals.”
The dancing continued, during which photographer Katie Murt made a photo-series of Ellen and the visual projection, as the lit artworks glowed in the growing darkness.