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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Southampton research inspires new art

Published: 14 May 2012
Tatton Biennial

A stunning new collaborative art work inspired by Southampton research has just been unveiled at the 2012 Tatton Park Biennial.

The third edition of this contemporary art event takes Flights of Fancy as its theme. Among more than twenty new commissions featured in the Mansion, Gardens and Park is a film installation in Tatton Park's opulent Music Room, made by artist Aura Satz and composer Larry Goves. Research by Southampton's Professor Jeanice Brooks into the life and music of one of Tatton's previous residents, Elizabeth Sykes (1777-1853) provided raw materials for the project. Southampton PhD students Penelope Cave and Katrina Faulds played Tatton Park's eighteenth-century harpsichord and early nineteenth-century square piano to generate both sounds and images for the film.

"Sound Ornaments in the Music Room" uses extended close-up tracking shots of the elaborate patterns in the furniture and instruments of the Music Room to create a visual score. Music by Larry Goves (Southampton PhD 2011) uses manuscript ornamentation copied by Elizabeth Sykes into her music books as the basis for a set of keyboard miniatures and for vocal lines that transform short decorations into long melodies, echoing the intense scrutiny of architectural ornament that animates Aura Satz's film. The soundtrack combines these elements against a microtonal landscape composed of electronic sounds and long cello, organ and piano lines to create a sense of ghostly presence in the Music Room as the instruments and furniture come to life.

A show in the Mansion's Exhibition Room, "Interpreting the Archives," explains how contemporary artworks commissioned for the Biennial draw inspiration from the house and its setting. It explores the relationship between the Music Room installation and Brooks's research on the historic music collections of Tatton Park, and includes a display of Elizabeth Syke's music books and a new musical automaton by Aura Satz.

The 2012 Tatton Park Biennial opened on 12 May and can be visited until 30 September 2012. The closing event, on 29 September, will feature a live concert of new and old music from Tatton Park's collection, including a further series of new works commissioned for the occasion.

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