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The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) has collaborated with people in Wester Hailes to create an audio-visual installation which is on show at the Society of Scottish Artists 121st Annual exhibition until 17 January after which it will move to WHALE Arts and then the Fruitmarket Gallery.

The composer Suzanne Parry, musician Emma Smith, artist Ewan John and the SCO have created Incredible Distance as part of the SCO’s three year residency in Wester Hailes.

This involves sound from every day life in the area captured snapshots by collecting found sound, imagery, film and original music composed specially. This has all been woven together and the result is part tone poem, part dreamscape all designed to loosely represent 24 hours in the western fringes of the capital.

Through individual fieldwork and group sessions with each other and with SCO musicians, a 12-minute soundscape with accompanying imagery and footage has been created alongside four 30-second miniature musical representations of key “Wester Hailes sounds” performed by classically trained musicians. Together with accompanying scores of handwritten sketches printed on sheets of aluminium, a “cultural soundmap” of Wester Hailes has been created.

A 24-hour timeline was pinned to the wall of the room at WHALE Arts where the workshops took place and at each session a different three to four-hour window of time was explored and discussed. In between sessions, participants would reflect on that time period, capturing sounds and sights from their daily routines which they would upload into a shared Dropbox for the next session. In a hectic world, the project encouraged the participants to look up and around – to stop, to observe, to listen, to have a heightened appreciation of their surroundings and to explore how our everyday soundworlds can influence how we connect with our local environment and with other people. 

Incredible Distance is on display at the Society of Scottish Artists Annual Exhibition until 17 January 2019, at WHALE Arts in Wester Hailes from 22 January – 9 February and at the Fruitmarket Gallery during the Connecting Communities Exhibition from 12 – 16 February.

The project is part of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s three-year residency in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh. From October 2017 to summer 2020, through creative workshops, projects and public performances with young people, adults and families from across the Wester Hailes community, the SCO hopes to open new worlds of musical learning and enjoyment for local residents and to inspire people of all ages to explore and develop their musical potential and creativity. 

Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, Creative Learning Director for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra said: “This project has been a fantastic opportunity for us to get to know Wester Hailes residents and for them to start to get to know the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. It has been a very rich opportunity for everyone involved to co-create a unique piece of work which articulates the lived experiences of all participants. We’re really delighted to be able to show Incredible Distance in two city centre venues and at WHALE Arts.”

Kate Griffin, Creative Programme Manager for WHALE Arts said: “WHALE Arts is delighted to have been working in partnership with the SCO to offer this exciting and engaging project in Wester Hailes. We look forward to sharing the results with participants, the local community and across the city.

Composer Suzanne Parry said:”The trust and enthusiasm that the participants, WHALE Arts and the SCO have shown me has been humbling, inspiring and motivating. There were many unknowns, and several skills I had to learn along the way, but SCO made this a uniquely safe and supportive experience. The project has opened new and exciting doors and changed how I see myself as a musician.”