Owl Project at Derbyshire Food & Drink Fair - 22-23 May 2010 - Kedleston Hall
re:place invited Owl Project to do something interesting at Derbyshire Food & Drink Fair.
Owl Project is a collaborative group of Manchester based artists who share interests in human interaction with technology and process led art. They are known for a distinctive range of wooden musical and sculptural instruments that critique human interaction with computer interfaces, and and at Kedleston Hall they amplifyied and manipulated the sounds of the fair - cutting, mashing, cooking and grinding - using sieves, wooden bowls, spoons, grains...
The Derbyshire Food & Drink Fair was set in the grounds of the spectacular National Trust Property of Kedleston Hall in the heart of Derbyshire, and the weekend was a sunny one.
As most of Owl Project's instruments were on show in Sheffield they decided to do something new. Recently they have been trying to make some different shaped horn speakers and really wanted to work with steam bending so they proposed to work with Mike Turnock, who is apparently the last riddle maker in the UK and an expert in bending wood.
Mike lives near by so the Owl Project drove down to his workshop in Whaley Bridge and checked out his steam bending equipment, essentially a hacked boiler. They got a load of tips such as; leave the wood in there for 4 hours, taper the ends to make it easier to bend. After a great tour through the whole riddle making process they bought a couple of riddles and some 1/4 inch thickness beech.
Back in the studio they modelled the shape they wanted on the computer in Blender and then unwrapped it and cut out the 12 segments on a cnc machine. After some fiddling around they discovered that they could give the model a thickness and work out the angle the wood needed to be cut.
Simpn Blackmore says, "Amazingly it came together.... but only after a lot of swearing, gorilla glue and sanding. I think sanding should be really only be used as a finishing touch and will endeavor to make sure the next one needs less. We will definitely be using thinner wood for the end curve!"
Finally they made it to the food festival with their horns.
"It was great to hear so many peoples memories of horn speakers. They have an interesting history; apparently they were really popular among hifi enthusiasts in the 50's and some people went to the lengths of extending them into their gardens to get the bass frequencies ( I have yet to see a photo of this). At the festival we happened to be next to the guy who was doing the announcements. He had this fantastic set of Grampian speakers that were quite a bit louder than ours and apparently made by lathing a solid piece of aluminum."