7th February 2020
Stand opened at Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield on 23 January, presenting a new operatic sound installation that has been developed by artist Mel Brimfield and composer Gwyneth Herbert. More than 100 mental health service users, singers, museum volunteers and members of UK Men’s Sheds and Men’s Sheds Cymru have collaborated with Mel and Gwyneth to create a large sculptural sound system for a new choral composition, which highlights the importance of making within Kelham Island Museum’s rich heritage of artisans, workers and engineers.
This installation is the first of Arts&Heritage’s 2018/19 Meeting Point cohort (based in the North) to launch, and will be followed in the spring by Lindsey Mendick and Dominic Watson’s work at Washington Old Hall in the North East, and the also Yorkshire-based Colne Valley Museum, working with artist Ed Kluz.
Stand takes the form of a vast music box, with the recitation of Patrick – a long-term inpatient at Bethlem Hospital, whom Brimfield recorded during a year of research at the National Psychosis Unit – emanating from a speaker embedded in a tree, gold-leafed and hung with hundreds of polished semi-precious stones. A circle of 15 chairs gathers around the sculpture – each has been individually designed and built by chapters of the UK Men’s Sheds and Men’s Sheds Cymru, as well as Kelham Island Museum volunteers and technicians, in close collaboration with the artist. A speaker is built into each chair, relaying parts of the complex multi-channel composition, performed by members of More Than Just A Choir.
Mel Brimfield explains, “The accessibility and value of creativity to the isolated is both the subject and method of Stand. At a time of disastrous austerity cuts to mental health services, we’re uniting and foregrounding the organisations who provide crucial opportunities for socialising through communal activity. It’s an artwork that’s been made with and for the community, and is hopefully a celebratory testament to the potential of collective action!”
Stand is open daily at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield from 23 January – 8 March 2020, after which it will tour to Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff; The Tetley, Leeds and Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester.