Sound artist Dan Fox is bringing two installations to Lakes Alive which will be situated alongside the River Kent at Abbot Hall. 

The new piece called Cymbria contains the voices and sounds of Cumbria. We were intrigued to hear more about the inspiration behind this project.

Are you looking forward to coming back to Lakes Alive?

"Yes, I’ve been many times before. I made an outdoor spectacle show called Adrift for Lakes Alive in 2010 and in 2012 I performed with the Boom Bike Big Band. 

"My Aeolian sound sculpture, Howling Wire, was one element of Audible Forces presented at Brockhole in 2013 and in 2014 I played on the stage outside the Brewery Arts Centre with a seven-piece band, the Balkanics."

Can you tell us a little about your project this year?

"The piece is an experience which people will walk through listening to pools of sounds.

"Shimmer is a row of twelve cymbals, each with a tactile transducer and an LED array. The transducers transmit sound vibrations through the cymbals converting them into speakers with a natural metallic reverb.

"LED’s up-light the copper alloy cymbals in response to the sound and reflect pools of coloured light onto the ground. 

"Shimmer is experienced by walking under the cymbals and listening to pools of sound emanating from them. The pieces of six channel compositions of looped audio made up of recordings of local people of all ages talking about the local landscape and what it means to them."

How long have you been working on the piece?

"I first developed it in Winter 2015/2016 for Electric Glen - an illuminated trail in Rouken Glen Park near Glasgow. 

"Working with lighting designer Phil Supple we created a 150m long path with 24 cymbals playing a composition created entirely with sounds made on the cymbals themselves; hitting them with various wooden and metal sticks, felt beaters, brushes and bowing them. 

"Since then I have created different versions of it, each with different audio content. 

"For Lakes Alive I have developed the hanging system as it will mostly be seen in the daylight. I hope the poles are reminiscent of Victorian streetlights with painted poles and turned wooden finials.

Which areas of the Lakes have been used in Cymbria? 

"Humphrey Head, Rusland Valley, Bowness, Kendal Old Canal, Ulverston, Back Barrow, Windermere."

Do you hope people will interpret Cymbria in a certain way? What should people take away from the piece? 

"I hope that people take away the fact that we are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world with a diverse range of landscapes on our doorstep. The lakes and landscapes are free to access and can be very healing to the soul. I hope it also shows that people of all ages and walks of life are passionate about the environment around us."

What is it about the Lake District that inspires your work?

"I live and work here. Over the years I have built up a library of sound recordings of the local environment, from Curlews on Shap summit, to Natterjack toads on Roanhead beach, red squirrels near Glenridding, underwater creatures in Roudsea Wood, wind on wires at Askam-in-Furness windfarm. I love going out into the landscape a recording what I can find. I often use this as source material for compositions."

The Lake District has become renowned for inspiring artists for centuries; do you feel this is still true today? 

"It is still an inspiring place for artists and there are some really talented artists, musicians, writers, photographers, film makers, designers and craftspeople who live and work here today. 

"Cumbria It is such a large county with big mountains in the middle of it and sometimes it can feel a bit disparate, but there are great things happening tucked away. 

"It is also challenging, as I’m sure it always has been, to make a living as a professional artist which is why it is great that festivals like Lakes Alive offer opportunities."

Do you exhibit your work, which as we know is inspired by the Lake District, at other events and areas in the country? 

"Yes, my sound design and soundscape work has been shown all over the country with soundscapes and installations at Kew Gardens, Blenheim Palace, Liverpool Luminous Landscapes, Oxford Light Nights, Brighton Festival, Greenwich Festival, NT Cragside House, The Sage Gateshead, Radio 3 and Kendal Calling."

Where can people find your work during Lakes Alive?

"It will run along the railings next to the River Kent behind Abbott Hall. I will also be installing my sound mirrors in Abbott Hall park, a 30m wide whispering gallery using two recycle military satellite dishes."

Sam 3017
Dan in action recording the sounds of Cumbria