Natalia Beylis, Padraig Cunningham, Sharon Phelan: A Resonant Landscape
Limerick City Gallery has embarked on a new endeavour where as part of each exhibition the Carnegie Gallery has been allocated as a test space. In this test space a range of related, ancillary activities will take place in conjunction with each exhibition.
As part of Mark Garry’s Songs and the Soil exhibition Mark has invited Natalia Beylis, Padraig Cunningham and Sharon Phelan to make artistic responses to the broader research themes of his exhibition, which looks at the relationship between landscape and sound/song. This space that Mark Garry has entitled A Resonant Landscape has become a distinct exhibition where these three artists have created new artworks that overtly and obliquely engage with the land and it’s associative, visual, sonic and poetic resonant potential.
For this exhibition, Natalia Beylis has made a series of rhythmically infused flower and berry tinctures. These tinctures were created from flowers and berries gathered from her townland in rural Leitrim. Beylis began by choosing specific pieces of music to correspond to specific plants. For example, the percussionist Milford Graves devoted his life to studying rhythms & patterns of human heartbeats. Beylis has aligned Graves’ music with Hawthorn flowers and berries (known to increase coronary artery blood flow) in an attempt to create an essence to protect and heal the heart. To create the tinctures, Beylis left flowers to vibratically charge into rainwater in the sunlight. While they were charging, she played them the album of the corresponding music that was chosen to give that tincture a particular therapeutic or remedying function. For several of the tinctures, Beylis invited her partner Willie Stewart to perform a live percussion set to the infusing flowers. Stewart interpreted rhythm patterns based on the properties of the plant.
Padraig Cunninghams work is attendant to site, observing and feeling, he proposes; How do we look at a meadow? From our eye we perceive the speckle of light and colour, from our ear summer sounds hissing and humming. What about the bird, flitting from bush to branch in search of berries and bugs. What of the spider in sympathy with the fly it is trying to trap. The ladybird uses the stem of a plant as a roadway to food hidden in the flower petals. The larvae
within that stem, burrowing to sap for nourishment. Or the woodlouse in the dirt where the fungal network spreads unbound, a complexity of the stars. In the summer heat we see it quiver, a melody of sorts. A composition on the point of collapse. Nature the machine. A discordant tonal equivalence of light and mind. Yet the narrative continues.
From the very low frequencies of a radio dawn chorus to a found score burrowed in time, Sharon Phelan is drawn to field recording as a figuring of acoustic attention. Field recording is at once a practice and a concept – a form of transcription where the relations and experiences of a particular acoustic environment are embedded. Taking the term ‘field’ as a space of framed potential, Sharon’s works exist as sonic imaginations that draw on landscape, memory and histories of technology.
Sharon Phelan’s work in sound, installation, moving image and performance spans writing, composing and curating. Her practice and research explore sonic communities, politics of listening, and technologies of voice – often in site-responsive or collaborative projects. In recent work, Sharon has developed a series of sonic artefacts and scores that incorporate archival aesthetics and field recording, reflecting on past sites of radical potential — from ‘the roundabout revolutions’ of the Arab Spring to the human microphone at Occupy Wall Street — while speculating on the relationship between myth and history.
Padraig Cunnngham’s work examines our physical displacement in the environment, focusing on the gap between what is real and what is fictional. Within this dislocation, themes of loss and absence become apparent often centring on everyday places, their reinventing and questioning their status, usage and how they have been altered to accommodate human engagement. Implied in this alteration is a nostalgia, a longing for what has been lost. The open receptive nature of the work is an attendant to that absence. Padraig has exhibited both nationally and internationally, recently he exhibited his thesis project at the Goethe-Institut Dublin as part of his MA, Art in the Contemporary World at NCAD, and this summer he presented new works at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre as part of a Landscape Ecology & Environment Residency.
Natalia Beylis is an artist, multi-instrumental musician, composer, improviser, field recordist and sonic story-teller based in county Leitrim. She has performed extensively both as a solo performer and with her band Woven Skull with Aonghus McEvoy and Willie Stewart. To date she has released over thirty recordings. Beylis and Eimear Ready facilitate the arboreal music and research project entitled ‘Whose Woods These Are’. Beylis runs Sofia Records, a digital and cassette based label. In 2013, she embarked on a project entitled THE SUNKEN HUM SOUND DIARY: a field recording/sound archive project in 365 parts. For this project, Beylis recorded two minutes of sounds from her daily life. And then, for 365 days in a row, she published these sounds to the internet to share with the world. Beylis also presents Sunken Transmissions for dublin digital radio.