podcast Kate Chapman

podcast http://youtu.be/oB-0oaY96Dk Kate Chapman sound artist who is working with The Sheppey Horticultural Society on the Daniel Monday night community show at BRFM Bridge radio

Kate Chapman’s first weekend on Sheppey

It was a chilly start – the coldest weekend for ages but all wrapped up and ready to go I embarked on my audio adventure with the Sheppey Horticultural Society.

I started off at the Medway Road site – not many folk around on a Saturday morning – the plots were looking perky in spite of the cold and there were figures in the distance bent over their spades and forks. I decided that the first step was to introduce myself to people and to start some conversations.

My idea for this project is make sound postcards – that’s postcards made in sound. Yes – it’s a tricky thing to explain but quite a simple thing to make. I want to ask people what sounds they enjoy or notice on their allotment and then record those sounds with them. Then I’d like to ask people to write a postcard to someone from their allotment – sending a message as you would when you’re on holiday.

I’ve no idea how people will respond to this idea on day 1 I decide that the most important thing is to meet people and to have a chat.

It’s good to have such a simple mission on a cold and windy day but I also feel slightly awkward interrupting people as they work.

At the Medway Road site I chat to Norman who is trying to work how best to secure a rotivator inside his estate car. He’s been on his allotment since 7am even though he was MC-ing at a ballroom dancing gig the night before. Ballroom dancing is his main passion with vegetables coming a close second. He calls me over to his rows of enormous leeks and gives me a couple. There’s an amazing oniony smell as he cuts away the heavy soil from the roots.

Everyone I meet on the Medway Road site tells me I should chat to Mr Poppy – an allotment veteran with many stories to tell. Strangely I don’t meet him until Sunday but when I do it turns out that his weekend is not going well. His wheelbarrow is missing and one of his chickens escaped on the A249 whilst he was transporting them.

Amanda and Tom are running the shop. I ask them about sounds they associate with their allotment. Tom talks about the Easyjet planes heading for Southend airport that cross the site every day at 2.30 and make that distinctive sound that planes make as they get into landing mode. He says its regular as clock work “Mr Poppy sets his watch by it”. I also meet Jim who’s emptying sacks of manure onto his plot. I ask him about sounds he likes and he talks about his kettle coming to the boil on his stove in the shed.

Over at Richmond Street, the shop is open and there’s plenty of activity. Dave makes me a coffee and I meet Chris who shows me his new homemade chicken coop complete with four handsome inhabitants. He’s new to the allotments but he loves it already. In spite of the cold day, he’s brought burgers, buns and a barbecue which he’s planning to fire up later. I admire his optimism. I ask him about sounds he notices. He says the sound of the geese that fly over the canal next to the allotments and just as he says it, the geese are off – honking away as if on cue. Yvonne has the plot next to Chris, she’s treasurer of SHS and she’s putting two new panes of glass in her greenhouse. I record the sound of her clipping the glass in and I admire her elegant painted nails.

“How do you keep them so perfect when you’re down here so much?” I ask. She says “They’re acrylic – tough as anything. Lots of people comment on them. When you’re retired, you have time for things like that”. I ask her about sounds she notices and she refers to the rotivators which have been humming away all morning. The earth is thick and clay-like – really hard to turn over and so rotivators are essential. Yvonne describes a symphony – or perhaps a cacophony – some low pitched and some high pitched, some close up and some in the distance. I like this idea.

So – once Dave has shown me his beehive,  I’ve chatted to the community police officer about preventing allotment break-ins and I hear about frogs in the canal that sound like ducks (intriguing) I make my way back to Chatham feeling as though I’ve got off to a good start.

post by sound artist Kate Chapman



Jim’s tenth visit to SKLR 12.02.14

Location interview with Alex from the coach and wagon department. He really
knows his stuff. We learn how SKLR carriages are repaired and restored ­ or
even built from the ground up. On site, there are enough coaches and wagons
to fill an infinitely rolling level crossing dream where the train never
ends. Mind you, if you told a Freudian psychologist you were having such
dreams they’d probably inform you that your unconscious is trying to resolve
a conflict between your desire to travel second class (super-ego) when
you’ve been handed a first class ticket (the id).

As you stroll through the yard you encounter passenger coaches decked out in
the Bowater company’s rolling stock livery. The exteriors are a confident
cheery green while the interiors are split at waist height by a saucy
caramel above and a deep nut brown below. Behind, on rise that borders the
vast modern paper mill, sharp faced daffodils poke out from the banks,
shaking their trumpets noiselessly in the wind.
Further on, toward the margins of the SKLR land, in an area reminiscent of
the forbidden zone in Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’, you find coaches bearing
Chattenden and Upnor logos. These originated from the military railway in
the Hoo, the marshy alluvial spur that separates the Thames from the Medway.
These de-militarised veterans still stand defiantly to attention though
they’ve long passed out on their last parade.
In among flat beds loaded with ruddy iron junk, clay and coal hoppers that
invite you to leap in and yell at the top of your voice. One is filled with
rolls of barbed wire, the spaghetti of security. Walking back to the
business end of the site, opposite the platform, are a row of wagons with
rusty ends loaded with the ballast and sleepers used to maintain the track.
Close to these are my two favourites – the recycled wood wagon and the fire
engine. The former has sides that look charred and burnt, as if it’s
survived a ride through a fiery torment. Close inspection suggests the
‘roasted alive look’ could just be the effect of the peeling paint. The fire
wagon is a child’s toy scaled up to life-size.  Impossibly red and festooned
with hoses and buckets. It waits patiently for a call to action. Despite its
comical looks, it’s no mere show piece. Last year it was raced down the line
to tackle a raging brush fire. In the heat of summer, dried reeds that cover
the marsh present the perfect tinder.

post by sound artist Jim Whelton

podcast Paul Best from The Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway

podcast  http://youtu.be/YEUPjZDGcoc Paul Best from The Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway on the Daniel Monday night community show at BRFM Bridge radio

Jim’s ninth visit to SKLR 08.02.14

Daniel and I are taken for a special walking tour of the SKLR sheds by
Fireman Mike. The main shed is built of parts shipped in from the
transhipment shed that stood in Ridham Dock, There’s plenty of headroom,
even for a tall loco along with a strong industrial feel. Concrete is
oil-stained, pots of grease sit like Eastern satraps among a court of humble
rags, the front end of the shed faces away from the creek and is open to the
elements. Machines and power tools are gathered at the far end including a
mighty 1950’s compressor with octopus rubber limbs snaking off through the
shed. It thrums and chatters busily as it pumps air off to various devices.
The loco engineers are working on an engine called ‘Melior’. The name which
is taken to mean ‘new and improved’ (think ‘ameliorate’) was designed to be
better than its forebears. However, everyone at the SKLR will tell you
otherwise ­ albeit with as sphinx-wise smile on their faces ­ which speaks
buckets of their obvious affections for ‘Melior’. The loco had been stripped and freshly cleaned parts lie stacked waiting for a fresh paint job.

I’m reminded of a Ray Harryhausen-era live-action plus animation version of
Jason and the Argonauts, in particular the scene where they battle the
bronze giant Talos. Talos, built by expert craftsman Hephaestus, gets the
better of Jason and his crew until some bright spark pulls out a plug
attached to Talos’ ankle. At this point he springs a fatal leak. His life’s
blood (Ichor) drains out like oil out of a sump and poor Talos crashes to
the ground defeated. Admittedly, it’s a bit of leap from this to looking at
Melior but there is something of the fallen giant about a disassembled loco.
The temptation is to put it all back together, even if you knew the metal
beast would attack mercilessly once revived.

post by sound artist Jim Whelton

Louise and Daniel visited Digital Media Centre South Hill Park

Louise and Daniel visited Digital Media Centre South
Hill Park for the final in the current series of Broadcast Conversations arts broadcasting and streaming. I am glad we had the opportunity and time to attend this, it was a really interesting and a useful talk . It was also good to be able to meet  Bill Best – Technical Operations Manager,  Tamar Millen – Arts Co-ordinator from The Community Media Association again

post by Daniel

podcast Simon Martin Documentary Photographer

podcast http://youtu.be/1vTYEALwdMQ Simon Martin the Documentary Photographer for Art Transmission at The Sittingbourne Kemsley Light on the Daniel Monday night community show at BRFM Bridge radio

podcast Dave Hale from The Sheppey Horticultural Society

#podcast http://youtu.be/hfAn47IjfPM Dave Hale from The Sheppey Horticultural Society. on the Daniel Monday night community show at BRFM Bridge radio

podcast Jim Whelton

podcast  http://youtu.be/xz6aIYMcfTA update from Jim Whelton a sound artist for Art Transmission he is working  with The Sittingbourne Kemsley Light Railway. on the Daniel Monday night community show at BRFM Bridge radio

Jim’s eighth visit to SKLR 05.02.14

Thanks to the vagaries of the mainline rail service it’s been a couple of
weeks since my last visit to Kemsley. I’ve made good use of the time editing
the interviews we’ve recorded and also viewing even more train movies. I’ve
re-watched the amazing chase scene in William Friedkin’s French Connection.
Set in New York and using the elevated railway system, cop Popeye Doyle
commandeers a Pontiac to chase after a drug dealer who in turns hijacks the
train at gunpoint. Supposedly, Friedkin edited the scene using a track by
70’s rock band Santana called ‘Black Magic Woman’. I’ve never tried combining them but it’s said that the track makes a perfect fit to the edits. Actual NYC transit employees played the conductor and driver in the film.

If anyone ever decides on a remake they might like to consider that the
Sittingbourne part of the SKLR runs over a sort of elevated railway ­ the
concrete viaduct.

Two of the Coach and Wagon staff generously donate their time to give us
with interviews. Ernie, who used to work on Concorde (the most beautiful if
slightly noisy flying object ever devised) and Norman the carpenter who has
the most infectious laugh imaginable. In addition to diesel loco driving
tips, we discover much about the techniques and skills involved in restoring
a narrow gauge railway carriage or even building one from the ground up.

post by sound artist Jim Whelton