I Know What I Did THIS summer (2/2)
2018 marks the centenary of the women vote in England and in October 2017 the ME TOO movement went viral on the internet so to have part of the Great Exhibition Of The North celebrate women in music, art and science with Manchester based creative music charity Brighter Sound was of great significance this summer.
Brighter Sound curated the Hexagon Experiment which “took inspiration from the National Graphene Institute (University of Manchester) ‘Friday night experiments’, after-hours lab session. Taking this on board, for six Friday nights in the middle of GEOTN over the Summer, Brighter Sound brought “together musicians, artists and scientists in a celebration of creative discovery, and provide a vehicle for discussion on gender equality in their respective fields”
Every event was different and every event brought along people of all ages and backgrounds in six very stunning and different venues in Newcastle and Gateshead and I was lucky enough to be a part of each event as Brighter Sound official photographer and this blog entry is a quick rundown of each event in photographs. Not only was it an honour to be given such an opportunity but it was also a great opportunity to hear and see the great works of all the women (and supporting men) involved in all six events. Six great evenings of inspiration and learning. If only every Friday could be like these.
Kicking off the Hexagon Experiment was The Sounds Of The Cosmos at The Cluny which featured a panel discussion led by space scientist Sophie Allan with astrophysicist Megan Argo and pulsar scientist Sally Cooper. Jane Weaver was also on the panel and followed it with a performance of her albums ‘Modern Kosmology’ and ‘The Silver Globe’ which were both inspired by the science of the stars.
The second instalment of the Hexagon Experiment, ‘We Are The Robots,‘ was at the Life Centre where attendees were allowed visit the Robots: Then And Now exhibition which had a range of interactive robots from mechanical to humanoids. Following this was a conversation hosted by mathematician Katie Steckles with Professor and creator of the Robot Orchestra, Danielle George MBE, algorithmic musician Joanne Armitage and Haiku Salut’s Sophie Barkerwood who followed with a performance with her two band mates Gemma Barkerwood and Louise Croft for a fully experimental performance with the Robot Orchestra.
Lauren Laverne hosted the third experiment, ‘Adventures in Flatland,’ celebrated graphene. Visual artist Mary Griffiths unveiled new graphene art as part of the discussion and Sara Lowes (and musicians) performed her commissioned Graphene Suite. Dr Radha Boya from the University of Manchester’s School of Physics and Astronomy also took part in the discussion. As this was going on Helen Sharman’s spacesuit was in the exhibition at The Great Northern Museum in the room below. Sharman was the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station in 1991 and this was the perfect nod to her in this experiment.
Part four of the Hexagon Experiment was hosted at the Sage in Gateshead in the beautiful sunshine coming through the glass foyer where Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE was in conversation with Mercury Prize nominee Nadine Shah and Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah. Musicians Caro C and Vicky Clarke were also in conversation before they were joined by Afrodeutsche and Mandy Wigby who were in residency with a group of young female composers for the Making Waves residency to give us a special performance as the sun set over a beautiful backdrop of Newcastle.
The WOW Machine was the penultimate Hexagon Experiment was a theatrical spectacle at the Boiler Shop, paying tribute to pioneer of electronic music, Delia Derbyshire, from Liverpudlian art-trio Stealing Sheep. Not only was lycra out in full force from the trio and performers from the Edgehill Dance Company but we also had a tiered hexagonal stage from The Kazimier. If you wanted a show to blow your mind, this truly was it.
Before the performance radio DJ, presenter and broadcaster Nemone was in conversation with all three of Stealing Sheep as well as comedian (and Delia Derbyshire fan) Helen Keen and Dr Mariana Lopez who is a lecturer in Sound Production at University of York and Chair of the Audio Engineering Society. A notable feature of the talk was Nemone’s clipboard too – it had the Manchester worker bee on the back of it for all to see. Everything was very visual in part 5 of the Hexagon Experiment.
The final instalment of this six Friday night project came with genre-defying composer, producer and performer Anna Meredith as she rounded off a week long ‘Works In Progress’ residency with 12 female musicians from the North of England ‘exploring the common language between musical and scientific composition in brand new work.’ This was in partnership with Generator. The residency took place at Ampersand Inventions with the discussion and final performance at Cobalt Studios.
Prior to the unveiling of the works, BBC presenter and broadcast journalist Elizabeth Alker led a discussion with Anna and Dr Oana Istrate from the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester. It was the perfect ending to the Hexagon Experiment and Friday nights will never be the same again!