This year, a group of Leeds College of Music staff and students have been involved in the innovative Postcards From Eyemouth - a project which has seen the experience and viewpoints of the residents of Eyemouth transformed into music. Here, Principal Lecturer in Post-Graduate Studies Jake Thompson-Bell talks us through how the project got started...
Over the last year or so, Nick Katuszonek and I have been getting to know the residents of a Scottish harbour town called Eyemouth. Situated just over the border, a few miles north of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Eyemouth is home to around 3,500 people, with a rich fishing history and active tourism trade.
As part of our project Postcards from Eyemouth, we’ve been working towards an exhibition and musical performance of new work inspired by contributions from people in Eyemouth.
We were initially approached by Ian Tod from Eyemouth Hippodrome, looking for a way of linking up Leeds-based musicians with the local arts scene in Eyemouth. We decided to combine our immediate impressions, as visitors, with the more nuanced perspectives of local residents, to create a site-specific exhibition and musical performance.
We asked people in Eyemouth to send us their perspectives on a postcard. Just as you’d write a postcard, post on social media or send photographs home from a trip away, we’ve asked people to send us the memories, people and places that make up their personal Eyemouth.
To collect more contributions, Nick and I have spent several short residency periods meeting people and documenting our experiences of the area.
The local response has been fantastic! We’ve got stacks of drawings from year 2 pupils at the primary school, sound mapping projects from Eyemouth high school pupils, as well as stories, sketches and observations from community groups ranging from knitting collectives to harbour defence. We also have a collection of our own sound recordings and photographs of Eyemouth.
We’re now working with a group of Leeds College of Music students from postgraduate and undergraduate programmes to develop a series of graphic scores for the performance and exhibition at Eyemouth Hippodrome.
Our graphic scores include text, illustration, photography and collage, all drawn from our own documentation and from the contributions of Eyemouth residents. They’re our way of visualising the kind of musical performance we want to create. They also allow us to transcribe the sonic and visual features of Eyemouth.
Our exhibition will include the scores and contributions side by side, mapping how contributions have inspired our work, and allowing audiences to literally see our process.
We’re also releasing selected scores as a limited edition postcard set, allowing audiences to continue the correspondence after the project is finished.
The exhibition runs 22 April – 06 May 2017, at Eyemouth Hippodrome. The launch night features a live musical performance of the graphic scores on show.
Find out more and book tickets here.
Postcards from Eyemouth is a collaboration between Eyemouth Hippodrome and musicians from Leeds College of Music led by Jacob Thompson-Bell and Nick Katuszonek.
The project is supported by the Open Project Fund through Creative Scotland, and by funding from Leeds College of Music.