The Hebrides Suite: mapping the islands in sound at Museum nan Eilean, Isle of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

photo version postcardno logoThe Hebrides Suite: Mapping the Islands in Sound
Cathy Lane
Museum nan Eilean, Lionacleit, Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
July 31- November 1, 2015

What is landscape but a map of human activity past and present?
Can place be investigated through sound?
Do past lives and past events leave sonic traces and how can we hear them in the present?
Using field recordings, interviews and archive materials ‘The Hebrides Suite: mapping the islands in sound’ explores aspects of island life past and present through the medium of composed sound.

Sound, like memory, can be fleeting and ephemeral no sooner than is it heard it has gone. Recording offers the opportunity to materialise sound and make it suitable for analysis, study and creative use and re-use. But who decides what or who gets recorded or what or who gets remembered?
Recordings both make and are memories – ghostly traces of the past remaining in time and space. These traces of the past echo and reverberate through language, place-names, family stories, song and the sounds of the natural world to form a sonic background to the present.

The Hebrides Suite: Mapping the Islands in Sound  consists of  three eight channel sound works and a large wall piece which maps the Uists according to field recordings made, and places mentioned, in the interview and archive materials used in the compositions.
‘Sandy Jaffas’ (2015) one of the three sound pieces, was  commissioned this for this exhibition and made in collaboration with the S2 Gaelic class from Sgoil Lionacleit in Benbecula, members of the Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Historical Society) and South Uist Historical  Society and supported by Museum nan Eilean, London College of Communication and CRiSAP (Creative Research in Sound Arts Practice).


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I have been on the Uists working with the Caitriona and Lisa from Museum nan Eilean, the students from the S2 Gaelic class from Sgiol Lionacleit and their teacher Marion MacCorquadale. Following on from the students recording the interviews with their relatives, neighbours and friends in Gaelic, Caitriona, Lisa and I interviewed each of the students (in English )  about the places they like and don’t like; places where something significant has happened to them and places that they think should be renamed.  They have been making maps based on these interviews.



We also went out and visited some of the places that people had talked about in their interviews and made field recordings.

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