Pandora’s Light Box is installed in three spaces throughout the Talbot Rice Gallery, for all visitors to listen to. The project combines poetry, sound and objects to present a description of the gallery spaces. The project was realised with the input of different artists, in collaboration with visually impaired participants.
Listen below or read the poems here.
Audio: Pandora's Light Box recordings
A Collaborative Approach
Participants on Pandora’s Light Box worked with poet Ken Cockburn exploring the gallery’s spaces to develop the descriptive poem. Sound Artists Martin Parker and Jung In Jung devised a means of incorporating the poem into a sound installation. Working with participants Frances Priest developed a set of three ceramic forms to house the installation. Designer and engineer Ronnie Watt resolved and produced the casing and fixings for the installation.
The challenge was to find a solution to encourage visitors to listen and which is accessible and works aesthetically within the gallery. Frances Priest led clay workshops exploring possible forms for the earpiece.
Public reading of Pandora’s Light Box
A public reading of Pandora’s Light Box attracted a broad audience and opened discussion about the gallery space and diverse experiences of it.
I came on board with an approach relating to my own practice; those ideas were blown out of the water in the second consultation process. In many ways I'm surprised about what's been made, that's really exciting for me.
A volunteer's account
When having to complete a creative task set for you by someone else perhaps it is best to be taken by surprise. The organisation Artlink is very good at producing ‘Oh!’ and ‘Ah!’ moments. I have had many over my time as a volunteer. As it brings together diverse collections of people and places to find creative ways for individuals to be involved in their communities, Artlink seems to value the generative, restorative element of surprise.
Recently I’ve been involved in a collaborative project between Artlink, the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh and the poet Ken Cockburn. Using the thoughts of visually impaired clients as a starting point, Ken wrote the poem ‘Pandora’s Light Box’ about the Talbot Rice’s three rooms. The wonderfully incantatory poem for two voices will be installed in the gallery to provide a sense of the place for visitors. The sense of place it provides goes beyond anything one might physically be able to see while in the gallery. Instead, if I can risk putting it so vaguely, the poem deals in invisible sights. As it describes historical moments in the life of the building, the poem calls each listener to build in their mind’s eye places substantial and complex.
This is taken from a blog post, written by an Artlink volunteer describing Pandora’s Light Box and her involvement in the project You can read the full account here.
The listening, not just my listening, was important to the whole thing. We had to listen to one another, we learnt from one another and that opened doors. To me it was what the various people came back with that was important, some of the things were surprising, gave things that hadn’t occurred to me.
Explorations in Participation
A publication sharing Artlink’s work with older people. An audio version is also available.
Martin's description of the project and his involvement
The gallery is broken into three points of focus. At each you get poetry that talks to the space where you’re standing and the ceramics relates to that.
There are little touches and details so every one is particular to the room, you pick up that they are different. Its got a glaze that protects and its lovely to handle, it doesn’t mask the surface. Each time you listen you get layers of information. The other thing is they are nicely balanced – a good weight and size. These are not plastic, not something you bought in town for a pound. They are ceramic and tactically so correct, a good balance and you know what to do with it – it’s an ear piece.
I’ve two reasons for taking part: I don’t see well but I do like art, I also like to talk and be with people. The opportunities to go out and be with people and do something constructive are very limited.
We needed direction and purpose to accomplish good results, it got you interested. The whole project became an integral and integrated unit with everyone contributing. At the end of the day the artists produced excellent work and the ideas reflect all of us and its kind of fun.
I think it’s beneficial not only to visually impaired visitors but to sighted people because I think it’s a well done bit of art. It lightens and enlightens the gallery.
It’s universal and that makes it interesting for me; I don’t want to be an intellectual ingrown toe nail. You’re there on two levels, you’re participating and you’re sitting back to listen, think about it.