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Simon Fenoulhet


Elan Valley Residency 2016

Between January 2015 and February 2016 I was invited to take part in a pilot artists’ residency project in the Elan Valley near Rhayader, mid Wales. The site is a 70 square mile water catchment for a network of reservoirs and managed by the Elan Valley Trust. This was a new venture for me, spending four, one week stays at different times of the year in a fairly remote location with no phone, no mains electricity and no near neighbours.

I had an open brief to explore and respond to the site and although I thought I’d be studying the heavens in this well known dark sky location, I was slowly drawn to work with sound as I became fascinated with the way that sound travels over water or is deflected by air movement. Sometimes I could hear people’s voices from a great distance and sometimes I couldn’t hear people close by and I realised that moving air doesn’t so much ‘carry’ the sound as deflect it up or down depending on the terrain. It was also clear and that lower frequencies travel longer distances.

My response was to experiment with homemade Alphorns to send sound across the valley, from the hilltops and and from the tops of the dam walls.