Award winning audio artist and sound designer Karen Monid talks about her commission piece Sonic Tides, an immersive soundscape installation in the historic Scaplen’s Court for Light Up Poole festival of light art from 21 to 23 February.

Created from research undertaken by local volunteers, it will involve audiences in the sounds of the town in the 16th century that also speak of the history of Scaplen’s Court and with Brexit on the near horizon the issue of Poole’s trading situation with continental Europe is as relevant today as it was then, when the Catholic Church excommunicated England in a reaction to Henry VIII’s split from Rome.

Is there a parallel between what happened then and what we’re doing now in terms of a small group of individuals making something monumental happen on a countrywide scale in order to achieve their own private small ambitions? I’m not an historian enough to comment, but I have read academics who claim trade didn’t hit the buffers it might have even improved.

The one thing you can say about Poole is that the whole trade situation remained active regardless of what was happening in the wider political picture. Poole managed to make everything work for it in terms of trade, either by going direct to the continent or by channelling everything through the Channel Islands.

That connection to the Channel Island predates Henry VIII having been established by the De Havilland family in the 1460s during the War of the Roses and was largely responsible for raising Poole’s position to that of a wealthy, flourishing port. The De Havillands subsequently built the north aisle of St James’s Church where Karen is showing two new works with her husband, international light artist Ross Ashton.

I’m painting a sound picture of Poole at that time and the reason for that is because of Scaplen’s Court itself and Poole’s heritage and history.

It’s not a documentary at all, the idea is you walk through the garden, it is dark, things are transformed and you’re in that world. The garden will be lit so people can see but not floodlit. The idea is that it is immersive so you’ll hear voices from behind trees. I’ll be pulling together music content and sound effects and recording volunteers in Poole who are going to speak the words.

The research done by the community is really the core of what this piece is, their work has to be allowed to speak and I think it’s lovely to be able to do a soundscape piece that has its roots in Poole history. There will be sounds of horses coming and going, putting you in the world of the back of Scaplen’s Court. The idea being the tides of time, different scenes that wash in and out and you’re presented with the everyday life details told through audio.

Published 14 January 2019