Gallery of published work from field recordist and photographer Paul Ratcliff (photo credit: Steve Clark)
Examples of sound-led work
please use headphones or good-quality speakers :
here are excepts from a gallery & museum published works
Thwaite Mill – Earth Energies – Listening into the past
Renovated and restored these industrial relics, like Thwaite, trundle, whirl and rattle on in industrial museums. These contraptions baffle us in our less mechanically-aware contemporary times, where objects are now discarded instead of maintained and mended, or where our modern machines are hidden away from consumers behind aesthetically pleasing facades. The elemental water power which drives these magnificent contraptions is the same eroding force which is decaying these relics, as nature tries to reclaim and restore.
Renowned animator and drone-cameraperson, Darren Wall, collaborated with this work and additional audio recording were contributed by Ben Challis. Visually, these machines appear unfathomably, complex with perhaps only their adornments being considered decoratively-handsome, whereas audibly it is the sounds they omit as unintended by-products of their movements that are audibly exquisite and offer sonic beauty.
Sounds are produced which are percussive, rhythmic, pulsating, resonant and occasionally harmonic from these mechanisms, as metal, wood and drive-belts scrub against each other and water drives the paddles. Durational listeners will further discover sonic nuances emerging and decaying as the industrial equipment cycles, sounds often dismissed as unwanted noise to those audibly-inattentive or impatient to notice these details.
Thwaite is situated in an urban wildlife oasis, an island sanctuary for nature. Visitor now can hear species familiar to the millworkers traveling to and from work in previous decades.
As sound recordists, photographers and animators they exploit contemporary digital-technologies to listen into and re-imagine the mechanical and natural world of Thwaite.
As a narrative this production starts with exploring the natural world around the mill, then progresses to the elemental force of the water, before moving into the lovingly restored mill buildings and its inner mechanisms. It ends by returning to the wildlife around the island Thwaite is found up on.
This is an artistic local response to two global environmental issues: renewable power sources and connecting people in cities to the natural world, a world that sustains our existence.
The work is exhibited online, in Thwaite Mills and additionally at Armley Mills Industrial Museum in the summer of 2022
The Barton Line
Commissioned by experimental-photographer and artist, Brian Larkman, this production sonifies the journey between Barton-in-Humber and Cleethorpes. Both artists see and hear this is an intriguing yet often ignored part of Northern England. The production focusses upon the local train route, The Barton Line, as it skirts the North Lincolnshire coast line, taking in agricultural, industrial and suburban locations. The work utilises site-specific sound recordings made in early 2020. This online exhibit is a preview/pre-listen of the forthcoming Ropewalk exhibition in this ‘regionally acclaimed centre for the arts’, which will feature both artists work.
Paul’s sound recordings echo the apparitions experienced in Brian’s work, moving seamlessly between the natural and the man-made, ranging from the comfortable and familiar to the unnoticed and unusual. Exemplifying the rhythmic properties of the train as it navigates the branch-line and contrasting these recordings against the specific location sounds of the stations experienced along the route.
You are going to hear a collection of sounds from the region of Yorkshire in the North of England UK. This collation is the culmination of four years of field recording practice and is arranged to show both the sounds of human-made constructions, what Krause would call Anthropophony, and also the natural history sounds found in the urban areas of the county. It starts with renovated Victorian machinery, sounds from the past, passes though the common and less common sound of a modern city, using both close proximity omni directional and contact microphones to expose outer and inner workings of the places we live. It develops into an exploration of the sonic relationship between our wildlife and our machines and concludes with dusk and dawn recordings of ancient woodlands of the area. Many of the recordings were made after hours and days of waiting for the phenomena to occur, but there are also chance happenings in this composition, found through pedestrian explorations made around the region. In part this work questions our engagement with the environment, as we thermally and as a result sonically, insulate ourselves for the sound of the world around us. It suggests that we listen more, walk more and explore more. It also challenges our UK-based seasonal behaviours as we move from home to transport to work and back again, only venturing out in the summer months…. as many of these recordings are made in winter, autumn and spring. It additionally questions our relationships with places after dark, for although this is a sound-based exploration, many of the recordings are made at crepuscular times. It suggests in part, that we need not venture too far from home, as these recordings are essentially from my neighbourhood. Although these are all sounds recorded in Yorkshire, they do not include sounds of regional or commercial development; instead these sounds might be heard as heritage sounds, sounds of past industry, sounds of industrial decay, sounds of transportation and natural history sounds. These are not the sounds of people, but instead the sounds of some of objects they produce, and these are not the sounds of wilderness but instead the sounds natural history co-existing with humans in a North England county.
Sidelong is an exhibition production, responding upon the North Lincolnshire coast, from the Humber Bridge down to south of Cleethorpes. It features Brian Larkman’s creative photography and Paul Ratcliff’s sonic response to these images and the places depicted within them. Like much of Paul’s sound recordings they feature a mixture of human, what Bernie Krause terms Anthropophony and wildlife sounds or Biophony. It was exhibited at the regionally important Ropewalk gallery between May 22nd and 11th July 2021. The recordings feature the sounds from inside and outside the train, coastal seascapes, bustling towns, the Humber bridge and level crossings along route. The location specific wildlife recorded features spring birdsong and calls, from the Cetti’s warbler, Reed warbler, Black cap, Greenfinch and White throat.