A new art project reflects on life in Wester Hailes, one of Edinburgh’s more deprived areas, in sound, images, film and original musical composition.
Incredible Distance was created by adults living in Wester Hailes in collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and it can now be seen at three different exhibitions this month and next.
The SCO initially put out an open call to adults living in Wester Hailes. Then over six weeks of sessions at WHALE Arts, participants developed an original audio-visual installation which explores the sonic and visual identity of the area on Edinburgh's outskirts.
Through individual fieldwork and group sessions with each other and with SCO musicians, a 12-minute soundscape with accompanying imagery and footage was created alongside four 30-second miniature musical representations of key “Wester Hailes sounds” performed by classically trained musicians.
Together with accompanying scores of handwritten sketches printed on sheets of aluminium, a “cultural soundmap” of Wester Hailes was created.
“The trust and enthusiasm that the participants, WHALE Arts and the SCO have shown me has been humbling, inspiring and motivating,” says composer Suzanne Parry, who helped weave together sounds and visuals with artist Ewan John to loosely reflect a day in the life of Wester Hailes.
“There were many unknowns, and several skills I had to learn along the way, but the SCO made this a uniquely safe and supportive experience. The project has opened new and exciting doors and changed how I see myself as a musician,” says Parry.
The project is part of the SCO’s three-year residency in Wester Hailes. From October 2017 to summer 2020, the orchestra will be giving people of all ages a chance to explore and develop their musical potential and creativity.
Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, Creative Learning Director for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, says “This project has been a fantastic opportunity for us to get to know Wester Hailes residents and for them to start to get to know the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. It has been a very rich opportunity for everyone involved to co-create a unique piece of work which articulates the lived experiences of all participants.”
Incredible Distance is showing as part of the Society of Scottish Artists 121st Annual Exhibition, and will later be exhibited at WHALE Arts (22 January – 9 February) and the Fruitmarket Gallery (12 February – 16 February).