Tag Archives: jim whelton


All six episodes of ‘Press your Ear to the Rail’ & All 4 episodes of the “Don’t tickle me…Punch” (a radio programme piece of sound art) are all available as podcasts

All six episodes of ‘Press your Ear to the Rail’ (a radio programme piece of sound art) Art Transmission #1 by sound artist Jim Whelton working with the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway are all available at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVQqwRHcZFYCgnUg1xAgmugchZNvzirif And All 4 episodes of the podcast  “Don’t tickle me…Punch” (a radio programme piece of sound art) Art Transmission #2 By sound artist Jane Pitt & the Minster golden gloves boxing club are all available at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVQqwRHcZFYAivq1jCAaH4AXr2vmy3wwa

upcoming episodes of ‘Press your Ear to the Rail’ By sound artist Jim

upcoming episodes of ‘Press your Ear to the Rail’  By sound artist Jim 

Episode Three: Metals – for 21/04/14 will predominantly feature the metallic sounds that abound in the SKLR environs.

Episode Four: The Event – for 28/04/14 will feature a lengthy tale about the challenges of transporting conceptual art  on a light railway network.

Episode Five: Wildlife – for 05/05/14 will explore the habitat (including sections of the track and Milton Creek) and cast an eye over some of the local difficulties facing the SKLR and the spirited way the volunteers respond.

all episodes  will be aired after 8:00pm on BR FM Bridge Radio 95.6fm in swale and live online at http://www.brfm.net or http://tunein.com/radio/BRFM-956-s92168/ and as a podcast  after @ https://arttransmissionradioexperiment.wordpress.com/sound-art-podcasts/jim-whelton-art-transmission-1-sklr-press-your-ear-to-the-rail/



podcast Art Transmission #1 Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway ‘Press your Ear to the Rail’ first episode ‘Steam’ By sound artist Jim Whelton

podcast Art Transmission #1 Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway ‘Press your Ear to the Rail’ first episode ‘Steam’ By sound artist Jim Whelton. Art Transmission is a project to make new sound art for the airwaves on BRFM Bridge radio through the Daniel Monday Night Community Show
Direct link you tube http://youtu.be/fnJlIknZsDw
& getmedia http://www.getmedia.org.uk/arts/art-transmission-1-sittingbourne-kemsley-light-railway-press-ear-rail-first-episode-steam-sound-artist-jim-whelton/

Art Transmissions part 1 Press your Ear to the Rail on BRFM 95.6

Press your Ear to the Rail

Art Transmissions part 1

A Community Radio broadcast with a twist.

BRFM the community radio station from the Isle of Sheppey has embarked on a unique project to air new broadcasts by three local community groups who have been working with artists to capture the individual sounds of the groups.

Working with arts organisation FrancisKnight, ‘Press your Ear to the Rail is the first of the Art Transmissions, which features the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway and sound artist Jim Whelton.  Jim has immersed himself into the daily routines and lives of the volunteers as they go about restoring and maintaining the working railway.

Jim has explored the acoustics of the yard and recorded a wealth of anecdotes and technical detail from the volunteers. From the throaty growl of the diesel engines ticking over, to the gentle chug of steam power, listen to the evocative sounds that brim with meaning and memory on the Daniel Nash, Arts and Community Show from Monday 7th April between 7 & 10pm.

Karen Day, BRFM Station Manager, said: “This project has involved and enabled local community groups to work with BRFM. Similar projects have been undertaken and then played on air.  This project has been designed specifically for radio and BRFM are proud to be the station to air it.  The Community Media Association (CMA) has been very pleased with the progress and is being kept updated throughout by Daniel Nash (Community Liaison Coordinator / BRFM Presenter).  It is very exciting to be a part of a project recording social history as it is hoped it will be shared with the CMA and then archived in the British Library when it’s completed.”

BRFM 95.6 is a Community Radio station based in Minster-On-Sea, on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, which provides a wide range of music, news and local information, traffic & travel. BRFM broadcasts 24 hours a day 7 days a week and is run by passionate and hard working group of volunteers.

Daniel Nash is an artist and presenter on The Daniel Monday Night Community Show that is aired on BRFM 95.6 every Monday 7-10pm. Since launching his show in November 2006 he has interviewed a wide range of guests with a focus on the arts in Swale.

FrancisKnight is an independent arts consultancy based in Maidstone, Kent. Through the arts they offer positive experiences and new ideas that inspire vibrant communities and places delivering projects in north Kent and across the southeast. For more information please visit http://www.francisknight.co.uk

Art Transmission is funded by Ideas Test, (Creative People and Places: Swale & Medway), an action research programme to find new routes into creativity and the arts, embedded with and led by local people.

Background on Jim Whelton

Art Transmission #1

Jim Whelton is an audio artist and sound designer. Over the last fifteen years he has produced experimental radio shows and written original scripts for Resonance104.4 FM, ORF Austria, CKLN, Toronto, Dutch National Radio, Radio Corax Halle, Sao Paolo Biennale and for various internet radio stations.

A number of his sound and musical pieces have formed part of interactive displays in the Tate Modern, Science Museum, National Horticultural Museum, National Trust of Scotland and most recently for the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth. He can also be found performing live experimental music and making short films when time permits.

The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway operates over almost two miles of the original main line from Sittingbourne Viaduct station to Kemsley Down Station and crosses one of the first and longest reinforced concrete viaducts in the world. The line was formerly owned by Bowater papermaking and was used to carry raw materials and finished products between the company’s two mills and Ridham Dock. This steam railway is run entirely by volunteers who work together to keep the service operating and open to the public between April – December each year.

For Art Transmission #1 Jim is exploring the acoustic spaces within the yard. He has also recorded a wealth of anecdotes and technical detail from the volunteers and will use the station tannoy system to produce some surreal station announcements.

For further information contact Louise Francis at FrancisKnight on 07956 437242

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

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

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

Jim’s seventh visit to SKLR 22.01.14

I once registered for an Apple Computer Expo (back in the days when they
still held such events) using the pseudonym Howard Nentibus. I gave my
profession as Roving Collector and company name as The Lung People.
I registered with that ludicrous name because I was curious to know if
they’d even bother to reply to someone using such a non de plume but sure
enough, a week after I’d applied, a badge arrived granting me entrance to
the exhibition. There it was. Printed out in thick black type on the yuckily
garish green of the badge:
Howard Nentibus
Roving Collector
The Lung People

Some of the people I met said, ‘If your name is Howard I’m the Eiffel Tower’
or employed a similar national monument to indicate that they’d seen through
my guise. When people pull that trick on me I usually don’t miss a beat and
shoot straight back with : ‘Hello, Eiffel Tower. Pleased to meet you’,
simultaneously thrusting out my hand in greeting like an Masonic policeman.
After looking round the sad stalls dotting the really exceptionally dull
exhibition, I queued at the oversubscribed Real Ale bar. Punters were ten
deep, twisting and toe-stepping in an effort to get served. It was a
nightmare. The guy pressed against my right hand side turned to me, looked
cockeyed at my badge and asked me in an American accent if I was one of the
‘Creatives’.  As he said this he gave me a knowing wink. I told him he was
close, really close but just wide of the mark. I was actually one of the

Shortly before I left, a very smartly dressed woman walked right up to me
and, addressing me as if she was an old friend (a warm knowing smile
lighting up her face) said, ‘This is for you, Howard Nentibus’. She handed
me a magazine, turned sharply on her very smart heels and walked off to
rejoin her elegantly attired friends. I understood instinctively that she
wanted to show how much she’d been tickled by someone showing up at the
Apple Expo claiming to be called Howard Nentibus earning a living as a
Roving Collector and employed by the mysterious corporation of The Lung

There are so many departments at the SKLR ­ Coach & Wagon, Gardening,
Locomotive Engineering, Signal & Telegraph, Permanent Way etc ­ that I can’t
help but wondering if there’s room for a few more but of a mildly unusual
nature. It would be hair-raising to discover dedicated SKLR departments such
Dogs & Whistles
Earth Hammer
Mirrors & Investigation
Unsightly Density Reversal

On the tube home from Olympia I opened the publication I’d been handed. It
was a very glossy large format magazine dedicated to the Star Trek
The cover was dominated by the face of the actor William Shatner in the role
of Captain James T. Kirk.
I slowly became aware that a number of passengers were staring at me.
Although I’ll never know for sure (such is the nature of casual paranoia), I
assumed they were thinking that I must be one of the obsessives, a
card-carrying member of the Star trek cognoscenti.
You have to admit, if they’d named the Kirk character Captain Howard T.
Nentibus, things might have played out less successfully for the franchise.

post by sound artist Jim Whelton

Jim’s sixth visit to SKLR 22.01.14

There’s a typically gung ho sixties war film called Where Eagles Dare.
The storyline has the protagonists breaking into a maximum security Nazi
chateau to carry out their mission of derring do and save the world in 120
minutes ­ the latter a key feature of all Hollywood financed cinematic
adventures. I’m not sure I could save much of anything beyond a few useless
Nectar points in 120 minutes but who knows, perhaps my moment will yet come.
In the film, there’s only one way in or out of the chateau and that’s via a
precarious slow-moving cable car. Try to imagine how ticked off you’d be
when you got home from work after a ride across the ravine only to find
you’d forgotten to pick up the teabags.

I mention the old movie because it obliquely reminds me of the process of
getting into the SKLR Kemsley Down HQ. Apart from the line up from
Sittingbourne Viaduct that requires the running of a steam or diesel train,
the only access is through the vast DS Smith paper mill. The Kemsley Down
site is strategically bordered on three sides by the grounds of the mill
which has fencing, guards and security apparatus in abundance. As visitors
and guest of honour, Daniel, Simon the photographer and myself have to be
driven through the security gates and past a fleet of probing cameras by
Bob, the SKLR CEO,  every time we visit. The side of the SKLR compound not
surrounded by the mill edges onto the mercurial waters of Milton Creek, a
short distance from where it cuts in from The Swale. The creek is fiercely
tidal and quickly exposes and then fills to cover the muddy grey banks
beloved by all manner of long beaked waders. These gather in gangs to
studiously probe in the thick mud for worms and other take-a-way snacks.

From the point of view of easy public access it might seem somewhat
inconvenient that the SKLR is situated in the middle of a commercial paper
mill but this actually goes some way to keeping the SKLR legacy safe and
sound. The mill staff are generously supportive of the railway and keep a
necessary eye on things. Bob points out a section of the fence that abuts
the creek. Another type of gang, more predatory than the waders, has hack
sawed away the base of three lengths of galvanised fencing in an attempt to
gain entry to the site. It truly is astonishing the lengths to which the
unscrupulous will go in order to feed their greedy short-sighted appetite
for scrap metal.

post by sound artist Jim Whelton