Susan Stenger: Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland

21st March - 26th April

Wed-Sun 11am-5pm

The Gymnasium Gallery


Susan Stenger: Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland

AV Festival presents Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland, a multi-channel sound installation based on a cross-section diagram of coastal geological formations from the River Tyne to the Scottish border, drawn by local mining engineer Nicholas Wood in 1838.

Using the diagram as a graphic score, Susan Stenger transforms the geologic into the sonic in a 59-minute work that travels from the coal seams of Tyneside to the porphyritic rocks north of the Tweed, layering instrumental sounds, melodic patterns and signature rhythms from traditional Northumbrian music and dance.

Responding to history, culture and place names as well as the drawing’s structures, she combines surface detail of fiddle and Northumbrian pipe patterns with brass band harmonies, voice, Border and Highland pipes to create a unique portrait of place.

A fully illustrated publication including an essay by nature writer Robert Macfarlane and a CD stereo mix of the installation is available from the venue and online for the special exhibition price of £15 and £20 thereafter.

Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland was commissioned by AV Festival in 2014. Throughout 2015 AV Festival is touring the work in Northumberland to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Woodhorn Museum and Holy Island.

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To accompany the exhibition, Susan Stenger and AV Festival have co-curated a series of events, which include live music, talks and walks.

Exhibition Preview
Sat 21 March 2015, 2–4pm
The Gymnasium Gallery

Join us for the exhibition preview at The Gymnasium Gallery from 2–4pm, to launch the beginning of the Sound Strata tour, followed at 4pm by a special concert of Border ballads and pibroch piping with renowned Scottish folk musicians Alasdair Roberts and Barnaby Brown at The Maltings Theatre & Cinema.

All welcome, no booking required. See below for concert tickets booking information.

Alasdair Roberts and Barnaby Brown Concert
Sat 21 March 2015, 4–6pm
The Maltings Theatre & Cinema

This special opening concert features two leading Scottish folk musicians whose sets will include versions of traditional folk tunes that are part of Sound Strata. Songwiter, guitarist and singer Alasdair Roberts performs his interpretations of songs and ballads from Scotland and beyond, including the Border ballad The Fair Flower of Northumberland, alongside self-written material from his new solo album. Barnaby Brown is a virtuoso player of pibroch, a form of solo Highland piping characterised by extended compositions of theme and variations. His performance includes The MacFarlanes' Gathering, The Finger Lock and as a duet with Alasdair Roberts, Lasses Make Your Tails Toddle.

Tickets: £7/£5, advance booking recommended via The Maltings.

Berwick Sound Walk with Chris Watson
Sat 25 April 2015

Chris Watson is one of the world’s most acclaimed wildlife sound recordists. During the Sound Strata tour he leads three different coastal sound walks in response to the venue locations and Nicholas Wood’s diagram, the first of which is in the environs of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The sound walks encourage people to listen to, not just to hear, each unique coastal environment.

Tickets: £5. Please note: This event has now sold out due to popular demand. However please email if you would like to be put on the reserve list.

Meet-the-Artist Afternoon
Sun 26 April 2015, drop in from 2–5pm
The Gymnasium Gallery

Susan Stenger returns to Berwick-upon-Tweed to discuss her work with gallery visitors at The Gymnasium Gallery. This is a unique opportunity to hear the artist describe her working process and to ask questions.

Free, no booking required; you can drop in at any point in the afternoon.

Artist Lecture
Mon 27 April 2015, 6.30–8pm
The Mining Institute, Newcastle

To mark the end of her exhibition at The Gymnasium Gallery Susan Stenger gives an illustrated lecture about her artistic practice and career to date, including major commissioned works such as Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland, Full Circle and Soundtrack for an Exhibition.

Free, advance booking recommended, contact:


The Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland tour is supported by Arts Council England and Northumberland County Council.

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