Bev Broadhead in Conversation with Stuart Bowditch

~ The Green Fuse haven’t managed to hold the exhibition Power Up! because of the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps you could talk us through what you envisioned you would do as part of the Active Saturday slot we had planned at Norwich Shoe Factory?

My intention was to play a DJ set using vinyl in response to the work in the space, but to also encompass the concept that the curators developed whilst devising the exhibition. After a conversation with you I had a good idea of the trajectory that the idea took and how it could be represented using musical textures and intensity. A 1 hour set would give sufficient time to explore this narrative whilst not being too long to grow tiresome. I have previously responded with sound to 3D works presented in galleries (Lo-Cost Interplanetary Trajectories (TAP Gallery) and The Butler’s Portion (Focal Point Gallery), both by Dave Watkins and Josh Langan) and enjoy being able to add a sonic element to the work, and space, in real time and seeing how an audience responds to the different sensory elements.

~ How has your work developed over this past year?

At the beginning of the year I was working on my project Resounding, which was following in the footsteps of JA Baker, author of The Peregrine which was published in 1967. Baker spent 10 years cycling and walking around the River Blackwater in Essex in search of the magnificent bird of prey. Essex University have some of his artefacts in their archive and after going to see them I spent the winter and spring making field recordings in the exact locations on one of his maps. A lot of time on this project was spent just sitting in the landscape, listening, thinking, being, and it afforded me the time to contemplate what was happening in the world (pandemic, natural world, climate etc) as well as in my personal life. Since lockdown started I haven’t made much work as I have been working in my part time job a lot (it has actually boomed throughout lockdown) and given the prospects for the next few years I thought it prudent to earn as much money as I could. I’m now thinking it is more important to concentrate on improving some pretty basic and fundamental things in life and as such making work isn’t so high up in my priorities. In the past my creative practice has been a crutch through difficult times but over the past year it has been reduced to an administrative task and has been far from inspiring.

~ For the Green Fuse, we’re having to regroup and to some extent rethink the notion of Power Up! – empowerment, providing space for voices, and connecting. How do you place your work in these notions of power?

A lot of my work, especially installation pieces, tries to connect people using sound to evoke memories and feelings associated with place and time. By placing work in public places it can give awareness to or amplify the voice of a community, a building, or even an inanimate object and connect with people from all kinds of backgrounds.

For instance in 2013 I took part in The Chatterbox Project 2013 with Elsa James and Sarah Buckle. The work was created collaboratively with the pupils from Milton Hall, one of Southend’s most culturally diverse primary schools. I recorded thirty-eight mother tongue languages spoken by the children which were then presented in a large-scale sound installation at Metal’s 2013 Village Green Festival which had an audience 20,000+.

For four years I worked with Farleigh Hospice to record people’s memoirs during their end of life care. The project was really rewarding for the families involved, the hospice and myself, and it was such a privilege to develop a friendship with someone and be told directly about the experiences and achievements of someone’s life, which in some cases was before even family members.

You can listen to Stuart’s work here:

https://soundcloud.com/stuartbowditch/sets/resounding-essex

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