New Museum of London Site
Listeners will be transported through a unique performance to the core of West Smithfield, which will become a new home for the Museum of London in the next five to six years. The original market buildings were completed in the 1880s and are an incredible feat of Victorian engineering by the architect, Sir Horace Jones. The performance will take place in the cavernous, subterranean spaces previously used for keeping goods brought into the market via the railway line underneath, that still ferries Londoners throughout the city today.
On entering the cavernous former salt stores beneath Smithfields Market, I was greeted by the sounds of power tools and the laughing and shouting of the Crossrail workers. These sounds in turn were punctuated and drowned out by the trains running alongside the space every few minutes.
Opposite to the train line was a row of vaulted tunnels, their ends disappearing into the gloom. As I peered down into these spaces it was possible to see evidence of the older architecture underlying the more recent concrete structure of the main space – brickwork, patches of cobbled floor, old pipework.
Just audible, in the brief moments of quiet, was the sound of water dripping from ceiling to floor – multiple streams of regular drips overlapping to create a polyrhythmic micro acoustic shaped by the physical space of the vaults. These natural compositions became the starting point for my piece.
I worked with recordings of the water, synchronising sounds from synthesisers and percussion machines and layering them on top. As the work developed and I recorded different takes, the original recordings slowly disappeared, leaving behind electronic echoes of their presence.
‘Running Out Of Limbs’ by Tom Richards.
Tom Richards is an artist, musician, DJ, researcher and instrument designer working between sonic art, sculpture and music. Drawing from his PhD study (Goldsmiths/Science Museum) on the musical innovations of Daphne Oram, he has built his own idiosyncratic modular electronic music system, with which he creates slowly evolving and heavily textured polyrhythmic improvisations.