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Harmonic Fields Birkrigg Common

June 4, 2011

Birkrigg Common is somewhere that till now we had visited for a picnic or to look at the early bronze age stone circle. It is an open area of Limestone scars and a lovely place, with stunning views, however this time we had come to see the latest production by Lakes Alive.

Harmonic Fields Birkrigg Common

Having spent most of the day at Holker Garden Festival, always one of my favourite events, we had intended just swinging by Birkrigg Common to see Harmonic Fields, before heading home.

Harmonic Fields

I should have known better! Having seen every production that Lakes Alive have put on it should have dawned on me by where this was being held, that we were in for another treat. An audio visual treat at that.

Harmonic Fields

A gentle tinkling noise could be heard in the distance when we arrived. It was the most glorious sunny day and as we headed up the hill we spotted a figure walking along the ridge.

Bamboo pipes Harmonic Fields

Just beyond, a row of bamboo pipes. Winding our way through them we could not believe the sight before us. 500 hand crafted Aeolian wind-powered instruments, set against the stunning backdrop of the Furness Peninsula and Morecambe Bay in one direction, and Black Coombe, Coniston Fells in the other direction. French arts company Lieux Publics had spent the previous week installing this musical and visual extravaganza and had certainly picked the perfect spot.

Stunning setting for Harmonic Fields

Having left the hustle and bustle of Holker Garden Festival it was all too easy to flop into one of the conveniently situated deck chairs and just switch off. Sitting in the sunshine with a gentle wind blowing through the instruments it was easy to drift into an almost zen like state.

Harmonic Fields

Instruments included cellos, strings, flutes, drums and harps, sirens and gongs all powered by the prevailing wind. Each a letter of the alphabet depicting a particular type of  wind from around the world. Z = Zephyr for instance.

A perfect sound. Harmonic Fields

Unfortunately it is not a permanent installation, it would be so good to be able to come and listen to the various sounds in different weathers and at different times of day.

What a setting! Harmonic Fields

Interestingly the artistic director Pierre Sauvageot said he was inspired to create Harmonic Fields because of all the noise he hears outside his studio in busy Marseille. He wanted to discover what the sound of the landscape would be.

Wind powered instruments

The next place that Harmonic Fields is heading to is New York. The temptation to follow it round the World is very strong, it was that compelling!

Cellos and Drums Harmonic Fields

One thing is for sure. When Harmonic Fields leaves Birkrigg Common I will never again be able to visit without listening to the landscape.

Hoad Monument from Birkrigg Common

Thank you Lakes Alive, Lieux Publics and Pierre Sauvageot.

Harmonic Fields Birkrigg Common June 2011



From → Furness, Ulverston

  1. anniegreenwood permalink

    Wow. Love this Chris. I can see why its a favourite event. Thank you for a wonderful post.

    • Glad you enjoyed reading the post. Who knows it may make it’s way to Australia one day 🙂

  2. Here’s a link to sound map of the installation recorded by Dan Fox.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this. I had actually spotted the link on twitter and had spent a very pleasant evening reliving the event. A very clever piece of work and an absolute pleasure to share.

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