A large-scale sound installation artwork is to return to the centre:mk for a one month run.

The artwork is by composer and sound artist Caroline Devine, and returns to the centre outside John Lewis from January 6th until February 4th. It will run daily from 10am to 8pm.

This ambitious artwork is intended to celebrate the sounds of the unique city of Milton Keynes, and captures the voices of thousands of local residents.

City of Things has been commissioned for City Club, an Arts Council England funded city-wide arts programme inspired by the original cultural plans for Milton Keynes. Led by MK Gallery, City Club brings together artists and arts organisations from across the city to celebrate Milton Keynes’ unique environment and dynamic population across six decades.

Bletchley Park has worked collaboratively with MK Gallery, other members of Heritage MK (Milton Keynes Museum, the Living Archive, City Discovery Centre, Cowper & Newton Museum) and the Open University to support artist Caroline Devine to realise this unique work. City of Things draws inspiration from the rich resource material within these organisations to explore the voices and sounds of the city, past and present.

Describing the piece, Devine states, “City of Things focuses on the voices, sounds and signals of Milton Keynes – exploring the city through the ears, rather than the eyes. The sound installation comprises field recordings, song, chant and poetry that I have recorded and developed in Milton Keynes over the past year.

“Local choirs, Buddhists, football fans, traffic, the dawn chorus, bats, insects, the wind and the rain are among the sounds of the city woven throughout my composition. I will present the work via a system of resonators across the large windows of the grade II listed shopping centre building and it will also be played periodically over the tannoy system.”

As well as combining the voice of nature with the voices of the people of Milton Keynes in song and chant, Devine invited performance poet Murray Lachlan Young to collaborate with her on a number of site-specific compositions. Lachlan Young has written six poems in response to the landscape of Milton Keynes that Devine has woven throughout the work, and also provided the voice of poet, William Cowper, who lived locally in the eighteenth century and wrote extensively about the area. Devine has sonified a number of Cowper’s works and these together with the site-specific compositions explore Milton Keynes and its surroundings over a period spanning three centuries.

City of Things has featured on BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Radio 3, and BBC Three Counties Radio. The artwork has been well received by audiences with one visitor commenting: ‘Lovely to stand and listen to sounds, so beautifully put together. Amazing to hear the resonance in the windows. A marvellous experience.’. Others described the artwork as ‘thrilling’, ‘wonderful’, and said that they will listen ‘again and again’.

The artwork is free of charge, and will be installed outside John Lewis in the centre:mk. The nearest door is South 16. For further details visit www.cityofthings.co.uk and www.cityclubmk.org.

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