Symphony of the Sea is a recent collaboration between musician and composer Justin Grounds, visual artist Tess Leak and participants of Clonakilty Community Hospital, as part of the West Cork Arts Centre-managed Arts for Health Partnership Programme. The project was inspired by the everyday seaside activity of beach combing. During April 2014, Tess collected objects thrown up by storms onto her local beaches of Baltimore and Owenahincha and brought them into the Hospital, where they inspired conversations about their origins, histories and journeys. Justin brought in a group of eclectic instruments collected during his world travels to add to the conversation. Over a number of weeks, each participant recorded a sound using or describing the object, and these sound tracks were combined onsite to create a new, atmospheric soundscape, Symphony of the Sea.
Justin described his experience working as guest artist on the Arts for Health programme “We had a really meaningful experience exploring making sounds on the different instruments and with the things collected on the beach. Each person gravitated towards their own favourite sound, and we spoke about memories or images the sounds brought up. Then we pieced all the recordings of the sounds together into an electro-acoustic piece called Symphony of the Sea. It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and dedication everyone showed towards making this project.”
Justin is a violinist, composer and electronic music producer based in Clonakilty. He studied baroque violin with Rachel Good in his home town of Cambridge, England and went on to do a degree in electroacoustic composition at Durham University. He toured as violinist with live electronic band Keiretsu as well as producing 5 albums of solo music. He has written music for film and TV, collaborated with live projectionist Liam Ahern and is a founder member of The Headland Collective in West Cork, a group committed to producing collaborative work and encouraging emerging artists. Most recently, Justin collaborated with Dublin-based singer Pearse McGloughlin on a record of electronic chamber songs called ‘idiot songs’ which was released this year.
Tess Leak, who joined the Arts for Health artist’s team in 2011, has blended her own explorations as a visual artist seamlessly into this collaboration. She describes her own studio practice, centred around installations of drawings, collage, sound, found text and objects, as being inspired by “the generosity of finding surprises.’’
Tess Leak graduated from the B.A. in Visual Art (Dublin Institute of Technology), Sherkin Island in 2009 and also holds a B.A. in Philosophy and English from the University of Wales , Swansea. In 2012 she was awarded a Cork County Council bursary, enabling her to work collaboratively with a nature sound recordist on a work called Field Recordings for a Resurrection Machine.
Arts for Health Partnership Programme (West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council, Cork Education & Training Board and the HSE. The HSE is represented through the Cork Arts + Health Programme, the Health Promotion Department, the Nursing Directors of Community Hospitals and the Day Care Centres, West Cork) is based in West Cork and provides a managed and integrated arts programme for older people in healthcare settings. It takes place in five Community Hospitals, Bantry General Hospital Care of the Elderly Unit and five Day Care Centres.
Access to, and engagement with the arts in healthcare settings improves the quality of life for the individuals in residential care and encourages conversation and links with the wider hospital community. By being integrated into the culture of the care setting, the programme allows ideas and the individual creative interests of the participants to be nurtured, developed and implemented over time. Managed by West Cork Arts Centre, the Arts for Health Partnership Programme runs all year round and is delivered by team of professional artists from different disciplines.