"The binman walked through the space next to the gate, looked a little confused and was very apologetic for disturbing us. I continued while he emptied the bins with metal clattering sounds in the background. Whether he knew it or not, he'd somehow joined in the improvisation"
Outdoor Improvisation for Gate Post (2015)
Made in late 2015 in Tywyn, Wales, Outdoor Improvisation for Gate Post is some simple circuitry that amplifies a contact microphone that’s attached to the structure that interacts with the speaker to create feedback. Sellotape holds it together and generates sound during performance.
I made it after returning home from a residency in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I had experienced quite a lot of contrasting and conflicting emotions: the noise, traffic, street hustle and density of people is astounding and had an impact on my work. I recorded sounds around the city, including the cow markets and slaughter for Eid al-Adha – quite stomach-churning for the uninitiated. Unfortunately my work was cut short due to visa issues and security concerns. I returned to the UK quite bummed out and confused as to what to do next. My wife and I retreated to Tywyn for a few weeks and I continued to make work with materials and ideas formed in Bangladesh. This particular gatepost was whistling as the wind passed through it so I tried to capture, amplify and join in with it.
The actual improvisation lasted eight minutes and seventeen seconds, and at the time of performance a bin lorry started reversing up the street, right up to the gate, adding safety beeps into the mix. The binman walked through the space next to the gate, looked a little confused and was very apologetic for disturbing us. I continued while he emptied the bins with metal clattering sounds in the background. Whether he knew it or not, he’d somehow joined in the improvisation. He left and I never knew his name.
I continued doggedly with art despite poor results – I enjoy it for very simplistic and personal reasons. I took a hiatus of ten years between doing a BA and the MA, the latter I studied at Nottingham Trent University and found it to be challenging at times but nurturing and supportive. The staff were wonderful, and it was really important to take the time to push myself and my work. I was already involved with experimental music/noise, but through interactions with One Thoresby Street, Backlit and Primary I engaged with the scene more broadly. There was also a component where we worked directly with Nottingham Contemporary, which was great for our professional experience and our development.
While studying I received an AHRC bursary, which gave me a lot of freedom to focus on developing my practice. Since then I have worked and fitted art around that. I don’t subscribe to either arts model of tortured, starving genius or celebrity millionaire. The best thing about making any money through your practice is simply that it allows you to continue with your practice.