Unusual art project seeing and hearing Wigan in a new way

Residents will be able to enjoy an immersive cultural experience through a digital trail covering eight sites in the town.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:56 pm
Mark Peters and Ulrich Schnauss. Photo by Chris Baugh

Wanderscapes: Sound Resonances is an interactive digital trail which takes culture vultures to some of the town’s best-known landmarks and combines them with experimental music and soundscapes.

People wanting to take part will download an app, head to the eight locations and then sample the work of the young musicians from around the North West.

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The musicians have been able to tell stories using researched archive sounds, samples and freshly recorded ‘found’ sounds that they have in some instances edited and manipulated to create a piece of music.

The Old Courts, which is behind Wanderscapes: Sound Resonances, says the project is unique and was an opportunity to bring artists from the borough and the region together to look at the town in a different way.

Lindsey Holding, project leader and music programme manager at The Old Courts, said: “It’s been fantastic to be able to share this opportunity with these up-and-coming producers, and despite the challenges of Covid restrictions I think all involved have done an amazing job.

“For me personally, it has been brilliant to see how the project has evolved since it was first put forward by our development team at the end of 2020 in what was fairly uncertain times for everyone and to see how the producers’ skills and confidence have developed over the course of the project. I have found their enthusiasm to look to Wigan’s past as well as their willingness to try out new creative ideas, techniques and embrace new technology all in one go inspiring, and I know they’re all excited to take what they’ve learned forward into future projects.

“I’m excited to see their work go live and looking forward to immersing myself in the walk across the eight sites.”

The eight sites are Trencherfield Mill, Wigan Pier, The Royal Court Theatre, The Old Courts, Wigan Parish Church, Mesnes Park, Wigan Little Theatre and Haigh Hall.

The soundscapes have been created by Wigan producer and songwriter Charlie Gough, who works under the name A Dog Called Keith, Merseyside-based composer and guitarist

Rachael Gibson, Wigan-based duo Stale Pics made up of Dan Henthorn and Neilan Mistry and Jonathan Raper who composes instrumental music but is also known as a member of the Wigan group Flechettes.

They have been mentored by and worked alongside Mark, best known for his work in Engineers, and Ulrich who has remixed music by a host of top names, released solo albums and joined German music icons Tangerine Dream in 2014.

Mark said: “‘In 2020 I was asked by The Old Courts if myself and Ulrich Schnauss would be interested in leading on a project whereby we would create electronic, site specific compositions and mentor a selection of local musicians as they created similar work.

“In early 2021 I contacted several archive organisations and was very grateful to receive a substantial amount of historic audio material relating to the borough.

“We asked the applicants to include a minimum of two (either archival or newly-recorded) sounds relating to the sites, the only other message being that their work should take the form of a very personal, imaginative response and an exploration of their own creativity should be the prime objective.

“The process of working on the four tracks that Ulrich and I provided in tandem to mentoring the applicants proved to be equally enriching.

“As we incorporated the source sounds (including Trencherfield’s Mill’s original works hooter and a new recording of the Wigan Parish Church bells) we hoped that the inclusion of these elements might help to inform inhabitants of the borough’s rich and varied history and culture in a new and contemporary way.”

Wanderscapes is a project funded by the PRS Foundation Open Fund and led by the Crawford Street culture hub.

The completed soundscape will be available from Friday, July 30 through the global Echoes Explorer mobile app. It is free to download from the Apple Store and Google Play.

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