Memories of Environmental Utterance 2012

Red Admiral on a fermenting apple in Tremough Orchard © Tom Ingate

Unfortunately my apples have taken a backseat of late and are rather neglected. I’ve been busy with photographs and teaching but if I don’t post a review of the incredible Environmental Utterance conference soon there will be brambles everywhere and no chance of retrieving a single memory.

I must admit I started the weekend with some trepidation. Not fully engaging with the what an Utterance is or could be. The family were off to Devon for the weekend and I was left to fend for myself at something that I really wasn’t so sure about. I was also worried about the weather. It was forecast as rain and drizzle all weekend and musicians, violins and cellos don’t like getting rained on. But as I arrived on the Saturday morning the sun broke and the conference kicked off with the usual coffee and biscuits.
In the opening address we were informed that this conference hoped to be different from the usual PowerPoint driven events that performers, poets, artists and musicians feel stifled in. Having not been to many conferences or symposia I didn’t have any expectations based on previous experience but I was pleased i wouldn’t be spending my time sitting down feigning interest in a relentless two day death by power point. The venues of the presentations, talks and performances gave a clue to space that this ‘utterance’ would emerge from. The Sound Studio, The Orchard, The Walled Garden, The Italianate Garden and the Performance Studios. Even the board room which was the base for the whole event softened as the weekend went on, the wood paneling emitting more of its wood qualities than austere decoration.

Oral/Response by Angela Bartram & Mary O’Neill © Tom Ingate

The speakers were passionate the discussion lively and revealing. Highlights for me were, Oral/Response, The Living Figurine by Lula Buzz, poetry by Paula Claire, The Secrets Garden by Lucy Frears & Ian Biscoe, a key note about listening by Antti Saario and generally getting to meet some very interesting people throughout the weekend.
As luck would have it the weather deteriorated on the second day. The cloud layer descended and by the time the musicians arrived, drizzle swirled the orchard. It wasn’t looking good. The rain drove the musicians inside for rehearsal while I introduced the orchestra to the gathered few around the dripping trees. By the time we moved indoors the musicians had set up in the 3D CAVE of the secrets garden, partly serendipitous partly the quick thinking of Lucy Frears & Ian Biscoe. The final effect was really quite incredible, completely unplanned.

The Apple Tree Orchestra playing music written by apple trees in a projection of the orchard. © Kate Corder
The shapes of the audience merging with the projection. © Kate Corder

Thanks to Kate for taking the images, I was so relieved it was all working I completely forgot to take any. I had planned on doing a performance like this in a couple of years. This event has really developed my understanding of how an environment can utter.
Many thanks to the organisers Camilla Nelson, Jeanie Sinclair, Natalia Eernstman and the Articulating Space Research Group Dr Misha Myers and Dr Simon Persigetti

Author: appletreeorchestra

Written by trees

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