Stanway Mill

An artist residency at The Minories, Colchester, between 11th January and 11th February 2024. I will be making a new sound work in response to Stanway Mill, near Colchester engraved by David Lucas (1802-1881), and originally painted by John Constable (1776-1837).

Dates of drop-in workshops between 12 noon and 4pm:
13th workshop
14th workshop
27th workshop
28th workshop
3rd February workshops
4th workshop
10th performances 1pm and 7:00pm (End of residency late night opening with Tom Armstrong).
11th performances 1pm and 3pm

Recordings and workshop sounds by myself and participants can be heard in this Soundcloud Playlist.


I used to have the mantra of ‘You don’t get anywhere by standing still’ that is a reflection of my inner drive to be curious, listen, experience, make, and to actively take part in these things in order to grow and keep moving forward as a human being. Jung described Libido as "the energy that manifests itself in the life process and is perceived subjectively as striving and desire." My desire for being is to create and I am constantly formulating ideas, forming connections, asking questions, experimenting, making and learning.

I have approached my residency at The Minories the same way I approach many of my location based projects, in that I had no idea what the location would actually sound like. In fact, I didn’t even know exactly where Stanway Mill was located. I probably still might not, but through researching and some very useful input from local historian Patrick Denney and sound artist Matt Shenton we’ve narrowed it down to a spot near to the London Road in Copford.

Sonically each place is different, and indeed constantly changing. There are many factors to consider: is it dawn, winter, storm Isha? Is there a carnival, someone vacuuming their car, children on a trampoline? None of the above. One cannot in fact know until one arrives, sets up the kit and starts recording. I often find the arrival and setting up of kit a bit stressful, assessing a place for potential encounters, passersby, anomalous events. But once I am recording it is time to listen, relax, slow down, take notice, drink up the atmosphere, think. I noticed this most profoundly whilst working on Resounding, a project following in the footsteps of JA Baker, author of The Peregrine, where I recorded for hours whilst sitting on the sea wall alongside the River Blackwater at sites marked on one of his maps with a P*. The remoteness of the locations, the stark winter weather, the political and social situations (the beginning of the pandemic), my personal situation, all contributed to a lot of deep listening in conjunction with deep thinking. The brisk breeze on my face, the beauty of the salt marsh, the call of the curlew. Everything had heightened meaning. I felt alive.

The Stanway Mill project has proved to be difficult in regard to getting access to the exact location, as it is now in the grounds of a private house. I wrote a letter to the occupants but they have not responded. It was a strange request, I admit, so the nearest I can actually get is down an alley way next to the location. This presents other potential challenges. I think most people would question someone loitering in an alleyway in their neighbourhood, but so far that hasn’t happened.

The unknown element of this approach is a key part of my exploration and experimentation as it always leads to new directions and unforeseen results. It pushes me into new processes and techniques ensuring that I’m never getting stuck in a rut or making new things the same as previous ones. I always try to bring an open mind, to react to the sounds, encounters and emotions I experience there, and build from scratch every time. Obviously I have tools, tropes and flavours that I favour but the journey becomes its own and is never prescribed or presumed.

Performances are improvised to keep me on my toes, the give the audience something new each time, and to take a step together in to the unknown. Feel free to play some of the sounds on the iPads and guitar pedals. I’ll be making an album of tracks from the work recorded here and I’ll be performing the sounds live on 10th and 11th of February.

*Some of these recordings will be part of ‘Restless Brilliance: The Story of J.A. Baker and The Peregrine’ exhibition at Chelmsford City Museum later in 2024.