The Stone Tapes
As part of the 400th Year Anniversary celebrations for the completion of the City Walls of Derry/Londonderry, Creative Village Arts was commissioned by Derry City and Strabane District Council to implement an Arts project. My proposal drew inspiration from the 19th Century theory of “stone tapes”. This was the hypothesis that ghostly phenomena were little more than disturbed energy fields; memory traces of events absorbed and trapped in rocks and built structures. Under certain atmospheric conditions the sounds are released to play and replay – sometimes lyrical, sometimes a cacophony.
Working in a collective, with 3 other artists from the Bishop Street Studios in Derry/Londonderry, a soundscape for each of the four original gates – Shipquay Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Bishop’s Gate and Butcher Gate – was produced, each speaking to the history that has unfolded around their arches. These were made available online (for the celebratory year) at www.stonetapes.com, for visitors to the walls to listen to as they walked the circuit from Gate to Gate.
I produced a Soundscape for Butcher Gate, which looks out over the Bogside – a vista with perhaps the most troubled of histories amongst all of the city’s gates. This stone tape takes you on a journey - through the Gate, past a butcher's dog (Cerberus) - down into an underworld of conflict and then climbing out again into the light. The final climb of the 105 steps of Walker’s Monument (which was blown up during the Troubles, with only the plinth remaining) acts as a metaphor for the journey towards peace and reconciliation which we are still on today … I’d like to think there is no going back.