AUDIO: St Mary’s (recapping, lighthouses and field recording)

I have been meaning for a while to get this blog up and running (hello!). Apologies then, that these first few posts will probably be about interesting things that happened a while ago. Back in February we were given a lecture by the wonderful Jez Riley French about his field recording practice. The following day I was fortunate enough to be involved in a workshop, for which a van-load of us drove up to St Mary’s, decked out with recorders, headphones and mics. After a lunch of fish and chips at Seaton Sluice we made more recordings, yet more by a lake just off the A1, before arriving back in Newcastle in the evening. It was wet and windy but against the elements we all made interesting recordings, experimenting with contact mics and hydrophones.

I am really interested in field recording; its potential in regards to music, sound art and working with sound in general. However, I have always been intimidated by tech, jargon and costs. Thanks to the advice of Jez and the open, friendly attitude of all the other artists on the workshop I feel that I have begun to take those first steps towards using sound in my practice. Yes, it’s a lot to get your head around but it’s important to be making and learning even if what you come out with, at first, isn’t quite what you would like it to be. Field recording and the patience involved – not just for making the recordings but listening back to them afterwards – is fascinating. That day of running around with mics and recorders, looking for interesting sounds, really made me feel engaged with my environment. It has been a lesson in listening but the experience spanned the serene to the outright ridiculous! From risking barbed wire and being shooed away by tree surgeons to sheltering in the van and listening to the rain.

Here is my most successful attempt from the day. It is of a windy, wooden fence by St Mary’s Lighthouse recorded with a contact mic.

Jez Riley French’s website and blog can be found here: (includes a wonderful account of his visit to Newcastle which filled me with gushing pride for my department).


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