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Foghorn Requiem: offshore near Souter Lighthouse, South Shields

Date uploaded: April 15, 2013

Location: Offshore near Souter Lighthouse, South Shields, on June 22.
Time/Date: 22nd June 2013, 12:00 - 15:00

On 22nd June 2013, the cliff-tops at Souter will witness a large-scale and extraordinary performance. Devised by artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Foghorn Requiem celebrates the passing of the foghorn from the British coastal landscape and into maritime heritage with an ambitious and unique musical performance involving an armada of vessels positioned offshore, the Souter Lighthouse Foghorn and onshore musicians. A requiem for the vanishing cry of the foghorn, it promises to be a rare performance both at sea and on the shore. Foghorn Requiem is part of the forthcoming Festival of the North East.

Using technology adapted and developed by the artists, sound from the armada’s ships-horn originating miles away will become part of a new musical score composed by celebrated British composer Orlando Gough. This must see spectacle, which embraces the idea of a requiem for a strong North East sea-faring culture, will be a final farewell to both a familiar sound and a celebration of the people and way of life it represents.

The project team are searching for regional, national and international vessels of all sizes, ages and types to be involved in the project, and hope to assemble an armada of fifty vessels. Not all participating vessels need to have ships horns. Anyone interested in participating in this project should contact Richard Hollinshead or Lise Autogena for further information:
Richard Hollinshead, Grit & Pearl: [email protected] 07738 953116
Lise Autogena, Artist: [email protected] 07974927550

Grit & Pearl, a Newcastle firm specialising in public art commissions, were brought into the project when the National Trust, which has run Souter Lighthouse since 1990, joined South Tyneside Council in successfully bidding for Arts Council funding for a temporary artwork responding to the character and history of the 142-year-old landmark. Richard Hollinshead, Director of Grit & Pearl, said: 'I think they expected some sort of projection on the side of the lighthouse. But we love what these guys do.'

Lise and Joshua specialise in multimedia art collaborations exploring the systems – economic, geographic and technological – that shape our lives. They work a lot with digital technology.

Lise explains: 'When we started on the Souter project we talked to people about the history of the lighthouse and the disappearance of things like shipbuilding and found that people care about it very much.' Continuous advances in technology such as Global Positioning System, will consign lighthouses' functions to memory. She goes on: 'The foghorn is the sound of the sea, but it’s also quite unique to each place. What people hear depends on how the landscape impacts on the sound. It can be an eerie sound, but it’s also an emotional sound for a lot of people. People have different memories tied up with the sound of their own foghorn. That’s what made us think of doing a real celebration of this particular sound in this particular place.' The artists invited celebrated British composer Orlando Gough to join the team and ships-horns, originating miles away, will become part of a new musical score which Gough has composed.

Details of this and other Festival of the North East events will appear here soon.

© Simon Colvine

© Simon Colvine