The Launch of the Immersive Sonic Artwork of Wild Dress

Monday 6th May 2024, Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking, Stroud, UK

Wild Dress, a collection of my stories about clothing and the natural world was first published in 2019 by Uniform Books. The collection is about life, living and dressing in entanglement with ecological systems, recognising that these things – clothes and nature – cannot be separated. 

Now Wild Dress has been transformed into an immersive sonic artwork in a collaboration between the theatre maker and dramaturg Zoë Svendsen, award-winning sound artist Carolyn Downing and me

The core of the artwork are five sonic pieces, geolocated in woods around Hawkwood House, and accessible through the app Echoes. Here audiences can move through the woods and listen to delicately crafted audio pieces. The simplicity of walking and listening, experiencing the woods and experiencing stories of clothing and nature has a beautiful symmetry, the pieces feeling like an extension of body-land. They are available in the grounds of Hawkwood until at least the end of summer 2024. A map of the zones for each of the stories is below.

The Launch day also layered many other elements. There was a rail of clothes ready to be borrowed, each with different affordances impact the experience of moving and listening, and a cassette tape describing the features on hand.

There were two Saori looms hosted by Nicola and Ali from Stroud-based Wayward Weaves and Periscope respectively, and after listening, the audience was invited to weave some ‘fabric’ with natural materials gathered from the woods. The weave became a recording of a day’s worth of conversations about clothing and the living world, interlacing one with the other.

And there was the remarkable performer Tamzin Griffin who told excerpts of stories from Wild Dress and a later book Outfitting (2022). I watched, mesmerised as she filled out the words and extended them, and they became alive different to and apart from me. It was an honour to witness, a privilege, and personally very affecting. 

Huge thanks to all those who supported on the day and across the years that this has been in development: Metis, ArtsAdminHawkwood Centre for Future Thinking, Arts Council England.