20 September 2014

Sounds of the wild with The Sill

This Sunday (21 September), The Sill will host its brand new 'Discovering the Breamish Valley' event for the very first time near Ingram village in the Cheviot Hills area of Northumberland National Park.

The family-friendly event, opening at 11am, has been designed to help people explore the wilds of Northumberland National Park in an exciting, entertaining and educational way. It offers a journey through the sights, sounds and stories of this fascinating landscape, showcasing a unique perspective on the environment – with a number of surprises along the way. Tickets are available to buy on the day.

Listening Tours

During the event, visitors will have the chance to take part in a series of special 'Listening Tours' led by Cumbrian sound artist, Dan Fox.

We caught up with Dan, founder of Sound Intervention, who told us what people can look forward to at the event.

Q: What are you bringing to The Sill's Discovering the Breamish Valley event?

Dan Fox: "Alongside the other exciting aspects of this event, there are three unique elements to my role on the day. The first, my 'sound trails' – the Listening Tours I'll be running, will allow people to listen in on the landscape and explore beautiful Breamish Valley with their ears.

"I'll be bringing along my specialist sound recording kit, which has film industry standard film and sound equipment. This includes specialist microphones, such as my hydrophones and parabolic microphones which transmit sound from different aspects of the environment and let you listen in on nature in a unique way.

"From bird calls and bat detection to sounds in the ground, we'll connect all the microphones up to my portable equipment so that people can tune into what they're hearing and I'll be explaining this all to them during the tour.

"I will also be showcasing my 'Boom Bike' – a digital music workshop which runs in the field and brings together a range of exciting sounds. Finally, my 'Howling Wire' will also feature at the event. This is a wind-powered Aeolian harp installation which amplifies sound and produces a unique acoustic noise."

Boom Bike 



Q: What's unique about these experiences?

Dan Fox: "The event will showcase 'sound exploration', which is a completely different way of looking at the world. So often, we will go about our daily lives without the recognition of what's happening around us and my tours, help people focus in and experience some of the fascinating things that are going on in the natural world. For me, it's all about that wondrous moment when you are tuning in from another perspective – one you can't always see – and realise that these amazing sounds are occurring around us, all of the time."

Q: What would you say is the most enjoyable thing about your sound tours?

Dan Fox: "I find people are intrigued by the variety of different sounds produced. My 'Howling Wire' never fails to capture the imagination – the choir-like sound is totally unique and people are fascinated by the theory on how it works.

"Everything is also battery-powered or portable so there are no limits in terms of where we can go. I find people thoroughly enjoy the exploration and discovery element of what we do." 

Dan Fox's sound equipment 



Q: Why is learning in this way so important?

Dan Fox: "These activities represent an exciting mixture between science and art and they bring in a number of different disciplines. In many respects, my tours are experiments brought to life in an interactive and informative manner.

"Everything is battery and solar powered so we're connecting with the environment on such a wide range of levels. It's all about opening doors to the landscape in a way that really resonates and engages with people and links directly to The Sill's educational aims."

Q: Where is your work currently being showcased?

Dan Fox: "I'm delighted to be involved in the most recent exhibition at Cragside, Northumberland, where I have developed sound and light installations as well as an innovative experiment for visitors.

"I do a lot of work around Cumbria, which is my home county, and I've been lucky enough to be involved in a range of festivals around the whole country.

"My work has been showcased across the length and breadth of the UK and due to its unique nature, I'm able to transfer the sound offering to a wide variety of different events and locations."

To find out more about the upcoming Discovering the Breamish Valley event on Sunday 21 September, visit our events page: www.thesill.org.uk/events

During the event, attendees will also be able to enjoy a guided walk with the Walking Theatre Company, river dipping with a Park ranger, bug hunting, foraging with Northern Wilds and panning for (fool's) gold. If you have any energy left, there will be a chance to also give zorbing a try.

The development phase of The Sill project has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA are seeking to secure an additional £3.5million in funding for the full project costs and to make their vision for The Sill a reality, the project needs your support. You can support The Sill by volunteering, attending one of the project's consultation events or making a donation towards the £3.5million target. If you are interested in getting involved, contact The Sill team on thesill@nnpa.org.uk

For more information about The Sill project, visit www.thesill.org.uk , find The Sill on Facebook or follow The Sill on Twitter @thesillproject

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