The day after Storm Doris hit the UK Extra Sonic Practice members Emily and Marie made a surprisingly calm trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park to visit James Webb’s sound installations. The visit was organised for students on the Practices of Listening module at the University of Lincoln and for many this was their first encounter with sound installations.
Webb’s work was installed in three locations in the park: a woodland area, a chapel and the chapel grounds. The most striking of his four pieces was Untitled (with the sound of its own making) (2016): a huge installation of ominous speakers inside the chapel. The rhythmic drumming emanating from the wall of loudspeakers filled the space with the suggestion of hands beating to make their presence known. Elsewhere his work was subtly installed, so much so that we were unable to locate We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far (2012), which featured jackal calls in the woodland, though I was told by a gallery assistant that one of the grounds keepers had spent two days trying to find this mysterious invisible animal. James Webb’s exhibition at YSP has now finished but he will return to the park as artist-in-residence in 2018.
Other surprise finds in the park included Caroline Locke’s The Frequency of Trees (2012) a series of 14 tuning forks tuned to the frequency of different trees within the park, and Greyworld’s Playground (1999) an installation in the remains of a Victorian birdcage where movements trigger musical sounds.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is free, open year round (come rain or shine), and well worth a trip.