Accepted paper:

School's Out


Hilary Ramsden (University of South Wales / Prifysgol De Cymru)
Heather Summers (Meerkat Music)

Paper short abstract:

School’s Out explores soundscapes of our closed village school, unpicking the binaries of conference title, indicating more nuanced layers in contemporary notions of rural life and ‘rural idyll’ that are not fixed, but shifting & changing, depending on a variety of elements.

Paper long abstract:

School's Out is part of the series, Playing the Landscape, an ongoing sound project conceived by Dr. Hilary Ramsden and developed in collaboration with musician, Heather Summers. Playing the Landscape seeks to investigate, improvise and record sound in order to excavate meanings and notions of place, identity, belonging and memory. Playing the Landscape began in 2008 as a playing of outdoor sculptures using beaters and sticks in order to add audio dimensions to visual art pieces. This work developed into a wider concept of 'playing' other elements within the environment, integrating ambient and found sounds. In 2010 I moved from the city of Bristol to rural West Wales. I had moved to supposedly more 'peaceful' surroundings but became acutely aware of the soundscapes around me, with sheep bleating continuously through the nights and chainsaws singing through the days. Employing photography, video and audio, I began to document my transition from urban to rural through documented walks, talking to locals and searching out meanings and relevance of contemporary concepts of 'rural'. Asking questions about past and future, my research began to problematize myths and realities of a 'rural idyll', lived experiences, memories and identities, sheep and cows. Outputs from these include WalkinWales documented walks, a photo-essay chapter, a video Free Range Eggs & Chutney and Calling You, a soundscape created with Heather Summers in 2014 for MapSain - an audio-mapping of our local area - funded by the Arts Council of Wales.

panel WP003
Sound programme: "Utopic Dystopias: Dystopic Utopias" [Workshop]