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The Estuary Sound Ark has come to stay at Chatham Library

“What does the Thames Estuary sound like?”

This was the question posed by an ambitious mass engagement co-commission last year. The Radiophonic Institute invited everyone in the Thames Estuary region to share the sounds that are important to them to help create a series of ambitious and adventurous multi-faceted artworks which together formed the Estuary Sound Ark.

A series of poems and soundscapes were commissioned, and a new composition was created by leading composer and curator Matthew Herbert using every one of the sounds submitted. The new work was played once to the public – on 27 November at the Gulbenkian Arts Centre in Canterbury – before being archived and left untampered with in a carefully selected location for 100 years.

Sound Ark with Estuary Sound Ark logo in background
The Estuary Sound Ark on the Gulbenkian stage

What sounds are worth saving?

In response to the question “What sounds are worth saving?” people submitted over 2,000 sounds, including the page of a book turning, a fruit trader in Canterbury High Street, the train to the end of Southend Pier, traditional music in The Pub Eccles Kent, and the sound of the waves.

The Ark will remain in the Thames Estuary Area until 2122, at which point it will be opened and heard. An accompanying publication will be the only glimpse into the Ark until then. Copies of this publication will be found in libraries across Essex and Kent, including Chatham Library where the Ark is currently located.

The Ark contains;

· Composition I, a digital file with access to compositions from 8 local young artists from Thames Estuary area.

· Composition II, a digital file with access to a new composition from Matthew Herbert

· A copy of the publication, which contains information about the project, the commissioned poems and the list of sounds.

· 346 sounds, generously provided by Emily Peasgood which have been collected as part of her 2021 project Isle of Sound.

The physical Ark has been designed and created by Jonny Wells, a visual artist and carpenter based in South Essex. It has been fabricated in Essex.

People sitting on a stage behind the Estuary Sound Ark
Young composers and poets at the Gulbenkian performance

Medway River Lit launch

Medway River Lit is excited to welcome the Ark to the Medway area, as part of our Medway River Lit launch event on Friday 2 June at Chatham Library – where poets from the project (pictured above) will perform their poems and we will hear a little bit more about the Ark from the project leaders.

The Estuary Sound Ark was created and produced by The Radiophonic Institute. It is a Creative Estuary Co-commission supported by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and by Arts Council England.


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