River Echoes is a collective artist-led investigation into Bristol’s waterways through a series of participatory Deep Listening Walks and a live sound, music and film event on and under the waters of Bristol.
Over the summer of 2022, sound-artist Kathy Hinde and guests experienced the sounds of Bristol from an underwater perspective on a series of Deep Listening Walks, each with unique insights into Bristol’s waterways.
In the autumn, the project culminated in a site-specific music, sound and film event in Bathurst Basin, inspired by the hidden river Frome that flows beneath central Bristol. Audiences were immersed in resonant soundscapes and glistening traces from Bristol’s underexplored underwater worlds.
Throughout September, award-winning, Bristol-based artist Kathy Hinde explored the sounds of Bristol from an underwater perspective on a series of Deep Listening Walks. For each walk, Kathy was joined by a variety of guests sharing unique insights into Bristol’s rivers and waterways. The walks explored Bristol’s waterways by listening from an underwater perspective using hydrophones, enabling people to discover Bristol’s hidden river, the Frome, by tuning in to the minuscule sounds emitted by small aquatic organisms enveloped by the gentle flow of water. The walks contemplated Bristol’s unique tidal range (the second largest in the world) from an edge point of the city, demarcated by a shifting watery passageway carving a space between the urban and the rural, the Avon Gorge.
On October 17th 2022, River Echoes Live took place around the Bathurst Basin. It was an opportunity to become immersed in resonant soundscapes and glistening traces at a site-specific music, sound and film performance inspired by the hidden river Frome. From midday, intriguing sounds emerged from strangely-shaped metallic horns surrounding the Bathurst Basin, revealing the usually inaudible underwater sound world of Bristol. At 4pm this subaquatic soundscape morphed into a live site-specific performance inspired by listening to the underground resonant spaces of the river Frome, flowing under the city.
The hidden soundscape of Bristol’s waters were translated into a multi-layered, spatialised composition, featuring Bristol musicians Pete Judge, Liz Purnell and James Gow, joined by Sam Underwood and Beck Baker of ORE and Sophie Cooper, plus a larger floating ensemble, together sounding Bristol’s river Frome close to where it is reunited with the tidal river Avon.
At sunset, when the tide was at its highest point of the day, lights flickered onto the water of the Avon New Cut, close to the point where the Frome re-joins the tidal waters of the Avon from its underground passageway through the city. As the tide went out, a film projection, River Traces, was gradually revealed on the mud banks. The 16mm film was created from particles, sediment and plant matter gathered from the whole length of the river Frome and exposed onto celluloid film, developed using plants and water from the river.