J a n e t M c E w a n
Ringtones was a Seed Fund commission from the LOOK AGAIN FESTIVAL, Aberdeen. Presented publicly 27 April - 1 May 2017
For this commission I proposed to focus on the Carillon of bells in The Kirk of St Nicholas, or The Mither Kirk, on Aberdeen’s Union Street. With its 48 bells, it is the largest of four carillons in Scotland and the heaviest in the UK, attracting enthusiasts from around the globe. Housed in the tower of the Kirk, beneath the clock, the carillon is a musical instrument consisting of cast brass bells fixed to a frame, played by keyboards and pedals. The sonorous sound of the bells can be heard every day in the city centre when an automated system chimes the bells on the hour and the quarter-hour. On special occasions, sacred and secular, and at other times throughout the year, the carillon is played by hand by the current and only Carilloneur in Aberdeen; Ronald Leith, who has been playing the instrument since 1978.
Uniting one of the historic sounds of Aberdeen city centre with contemporary everyday technology, I worked with North East based musicians Davy Cattanach, Paddy Buchanan and Ronald Leith who produced a new collection of musical scores for the Carillon of Bells in the Kirk of St. Nicholas on Union Street. Once a day during the festival these compositions were played on the carillon in the The Mither Kirk bell tower, and could be heard across the city centre, and also could be downloaded as mobile phone ringtones from the festival website.
The seven final compositions can now be listened to (and a clip from each downloaded for a mobile phone ringtone) on the Look Again website.
Look Again’s Seed Fund supported new commissions by artists Craig Barrowman, Fiona McCubbin, Allan Watson and myself, all creative practitioners with strong links to the North East. Using the city as a starting point, we produced projects ranging from performance and sound, to digital installation and sculpture that you could catch in and around the city centre during Look Again. Seed Fund was a call out to artists for ideas that require new skills, explore new materials, or use methods or scales that are unfamiliar to them. Look Again provided funding and support so these ideas could be realised as part of the festival. The result was a series of engaging, reflective and resonant art works that aimd to animate the city in new ways.
Look Again Visual Art & Design Festival is a celebration of the very best contemporary visual art and design, showcasing both local and internationally acclaimed talent in Aberdeen.
Look Again aims to challenge the way we see the Granite City, encouraging its audience to ‘become a tourist in your own city’ and take time to look at the spaces and places around us through fresh eyes.