Louisa Fairclough  A Song Cycle for the Ruins of a Psychiatric Unit
Louisa Fairclough  Song Cycle for the ruins of a Psychiatric Unit

Photograph by Richard Jeffrey Gray  

Private view: Friday 17 November  6 - 9pm

18 November - 9 December 2017

A Song Cycle for the Ruins of a Psychiatric Unit is Louisa Fairclough’s third exhibition at Danielle Arnaud Gallery. It features a new expanded film installation and audio work, and takes the remains of a psychiatric hospital on the edge of a city as a simulacrum for psychic ruin.

Louisa worked with composer Richard Glover to devise a series of compositions for voice and tape loop that were performed by singer Samuel Middleton and musician George McKenzie. Each piece was recorded as a ritual for one of the rooms at the former-hospital.  

FEAR LIFE DEATH HOPE (2017) took as its starting point a found drawing from a sketchbook by the artist’s deceased sister which sampled words from an artwork by Gilbert & George. Interpreting the drawing as a sonic score, Samuel Middleton sung the words as glissandi in a derelict building on the site of the hospital, the words recorded layer upon layer as a composite on a series of tape loops. The recording materialises within the gallery as lengths of 16mm film that rise from four projectors creating a spatial and sonic drawing. Vocal harmonies emit from the bodies of the projectors, but the lamps cast no light - the film having been exposed with no image.

A Rose (2017) has two components in conversation with each other: a 16mm film and a vinyl dubplate recording, both made in another building on the site, which is now entangled in vegetation and open to the elements. An upturned shelving unit - shown in the film - provided a platform onto which a lament was performed. Singer Samuel Middleton sang a cluster of words repeatedly that were recorded over-and-over on the same tape loop, creating a composite recording that captures the song resonating through the metal shelves along with the incidental sounds of the environment. This was then pressed onto vinyl dubplate, with the tempo of the song informing the pace of the film. The end words - erase, erase, erase - arise above the rest.


Friday 24 November  9pm-12am - In conjunction with the exhibition Louisa will present the performance, VOICE IMAGES, a collaboration with composer Richard Glover, performed by the Dieci Voices at the Swiss Church in London. Please come and go or stay for the duration. Part of Being and Appearing, a programme of contemporary art curated for the Swiss Church by Kirsty White. For more information please click here.

Saturday 9 December - There will be tea and cake in the gallery from 2-6pm to celebrate the last day of the exhibition. At 4pm Louisa will present a live tape loop and reel-to-reel performance, performed by Samuel Middleton and George McKenzie.


Louisa Fairclough's practice takes the form of film loops, performances, field recordings and drawings. She is currently working on a new performance entitled VOICE IMAGES in collaboration with composer Richard Glover, to be performed by Dieci Voices at The Swiss Church in London on 24/11/17. She was awarded the CMIR Arnolfini bursary 2016 for the sculptural film Awkward Relaxed (forthcoming). Sounding grief: The Severn Estuary as an emotional soundscape co-authored with Owain Jones led to drawings and field recordings from the Thames​ that were shown at Estuary Festival (2016). Can People See Me Swallowing showed at Contact Film Festival, Apiary Studios (2016), Absolute Pitch and Composition for a Low Tide were commissioned by Whitstable Biennale 2014, Jeannie commissioned by Bristol New Music in 2014, Song of Grief shown at Film in Space, Camden Art Centre (2013), Bore Song acquired by CAS for The Wilson (2013) and recently shown at Rojas + Rubensteen Projects in Miami (2017). Louisa is Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes and University of Falmouth. She is passionate about experimental film, and co-founded BEEF in Bristol in 2015.

Richard Glover is a composer and writer based in Birmingham, UK. His music explores gradual process, perception in reductionist sound environments, performer interaction, and experimental approaches to notation. His portrait cd Logical Harmonies was released by Another Timbre to widespread acclaim in 2013, and his music has been performed internationally by ensembles such as the Bozzini Quartet, musikFabrik, BBC Concert Orchestra, and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Glover co-authored the book Overcoming Form with Bryn Harrison, with whom he is currently working on a major publication with Bloomsbury on the temporal experience of experimental musics, due for release in 2018. He has published book chapters and articles on Phill Niblock, Minimalism and Technology, and the perception of sustained tone musics. He is currently Reader in Music at the University of Wolverhampton.

George McKenzie is a musician. He started his solo project, Attacked by Wolves, in the early 1990s releasing several cassettes on his own DIY labels Spazoom and Destroy All Music. He first started experimenting with tape loops in the group Headfall and has since gone onto make them the basis of his performances.

Samuel Middleton is a tenor choral scholar from Bristol and a former-chorister at Bristol Cathedral. In 2012 he gained a place to study French Horn and voice at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Junior Dept. He was a choral scholar at Clifton Cathedral and is now studying French Horn and Historical Performance for his BMus at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.