For this article, we'll be looking at an exhibition which will be hosted elsewhere, Sidney and Matilda on Sidney Street, but was very much born at our venue. An audio-visual arts project that has explored the landscapes of the Orkney Islands is to be exhibited in Sheffield in March. “Landmass” is the work of SONA, a collective of three audio producers, Amy Beeston, Lucy Cheesman and Deborah Egan, who formed at DINA Sheffield in 2016, with Amy relocating to Orkney in 2018.
In May 2019, SONA explored the islands collecting visual and audio data to create a portrait of its landscapes, examining the archaeological remains of the past through to its future at the forefront of renewable energy. Amy said: “I’m a relatively new recruit to Orkney island life, but my family have got connections here that stretch back over 900 years. “I’ve been visiting the islands my whole life, but since moving here I’ve found that the raw, elemental aspects of the environment have become much more inspirational and important in my work, especially the effects of the wind and waves along the shoreline.” An archipelago of 70 islands, Orkney has been inhabited for at least 8,500 years and boasts some of the finest visible remains of Neolithic settlements in Europe. Lucy said: “When Amy moved to Orkney we were determined to continue working together, despite the physical distance. “Residing on the island for a week, we collected geo-physical data and live experiences, talked to people, walked and watched. We used analogue and digital production tools, collected live sound, made drawings, listened to Orkney Library’s archives, and ran an Open Studio for residents to create the content to make this piece.” The exhibition will be at Sidney and Matilda on Sidney Street from March 2 to March 7. During the residency SONA will be running an introductory sound art workshop on March 2, sharing some of their techniques and guiding attendees to create a short soundscape from scratch, with no previous experience necessary. Deborah added: “Orkney is an extraordinary and often forgotten part of the country, but ignored at our peril as 5000 years ago the people of these islands were at the epicentre of innovation in the British Isles.
“Henges, with all their Stone Age civil engineering challenges, were first made here, only then spreading to mainland Britain and the rest of Europe.
“As producers we were inspired to see this ability for problem solving thriving and still happening today. The breakthroughs made in Orkney over the last decade have positioned it as a global leader in marine technology and energy capture, creating a quiet revolution at the edge of the world. For more information please visit the Facebook event page.