Creative interventions in Handsworth Park last Sunday were a success, with a multi speaker sound installation in the bandstand by Bobby Bird , plus an inspired talk about trees by park ranger Jim Harris.
The pastoral / urban soundscapes recorded in & around Handsworth Park included the dawn chorus, a train, rowing on the lake, a cricket match, wind in the reeds, cycling, children in the playground, a pair of parakeets & an excerpt of ranger Jim’s previous talk.
Some of these, like the dawn chorus, emanated from all 8 speakers simultaneously, like being surrounded by birds in a wood, others, as with the recordings of bicycles, moved around in a slow circle from speaker to speaker so that standing in the centre of the bandstand felt like being encircled by an invisible cyclist – while a train (recorded using two microphones placed widely apart) intermittently clattered by in super stereo, to startling effect.
Children were particularly captivated, running from speaker to speaker, ‘chasing’ after a sound, or listening to hear if different sounds came from different speakers, as well as enjoying guessing which parts of the park the recordings were made in.
Sounds on the day combined with those previously recorded – children laughing in the playground weeks ago, mixing in with the sound of children laughing in & around the bandstand , which together with cyclists passing, birds singing, conversations being had, distant traffic etc, all helped to make this a most evocative piece to experience, conjuring a real sense of past & present, time & space.
Then came another facinating walk around the park lead by ranger Jim Harrison, whose knowledge about trees & ecology was delivered in an unbroken flow for over two hours.
From left to right : large cherry tree, a native oak and Jim’s personal favourite, the Indian Bean tree. Here is a short excerpt of one of Jim’s talks: