IKTA – my involvement with this pioneering, creative, collaborative, experimental sound group

The coming weeks are hard work for artist and educator Victoria Trinder who is officially launching IKTA (which stands for I Keep Thinking About) the creative, collaborative experimental sound network she founded in 2012. Victoria has been busy all year while on her MA Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Art & Design where she has been exploring her sound art practice through collaborating with other creatives including designers, musicians, curators and technicians. Victoria will launch IKTA at a VIP party during the private view for the Chelsea College of Art & Design end of course show on 6th September. Below is an introductory film documentary, during which IKTA members including myself talk about the organisation.

Victoria has been building interactive sound objects, sound sculptures, listening posts and instruments to use in recording and manipulating sound ranging from an underwater microphone to a percussive mechanism housed inside an emptied food jar! Victoria uses traditional modes of composition together with experimental improvisation and she also hosts IKTA as an Internet Radio station that acts as a platform for emerging creative voices regardless of age, gender and cultural backgrounds.

IKTA manifesto

IKTA manifesto

IKTA frequently broadcasts experimental sound sessions online and IKTA is active across all the online social media platforms as well as Sound Cloud where tracks are posted for listeners around the world to comment on.

For the IKTA launch, Victoria has been working on creating a special VIP area on the Cookhouse building balcony which will only be accessible to people that IKTA has collaborated with over the past year. It is a celebration of the work of the organisation but the event will also become a performance piece itself, as the VIP party is watched by onlookers in the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground below at Chelsea College of Art & Design during the MA show private view.

IKTA launch for MA show private view at Chelsea College of Art & Design, on the Cookhouse building balcony

IKTA launch for MA show private view at Chelsea College of Art & Design, on the Cookhouse building balcony

There will be special sound performances and recordings being played on the night by IKTA members and throughout the show run and the lead up to it, the space will operate as an open creative, collaborative sound lab for sound experiments, recordings and rehearsals. Victoria has been preparing the area by doing everything from sewing together sails for a canopy in case of rain, putting together hanging baskets of flowers and even a red carpet!

I was lucky enough yesterday to host a live IKTA broadcast and live sound lab in my home where Victoria and I created a sound scape of the IKTA manifesto using saxophone, clarinet and our voices to interpret the text of the manifesto and you can listen to the results below.

I have found being involved in IKTA to be an extremely rewarding experience as IKTA has an open to all policy, meaning that anyone wherever they are based can be involved online or in person and there is no need for any traditional musical training or previous experience of working with experimental sound. IKTA members range from age 17 to those whose practice is based in spatial and technology design or musical education, but all these skills and different backgrounds are united to experiment with sounds together.

Victoria Trinder & Kate Ross during their IKTA live sound lab session

Victoria Trinder & Kate Ross during their IKTA live sound lab session

For me, in my own curatorial practice, I have always been fascinated by the alternative side of music, leading to sound art. So when I met Victoria and months later, when I became curator at Notting Hill Arts Club, I was thrilled to be able to invite IKTA to perform a live sound lab session at the launch of my multi arts series at the venue, which you can read about here.

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Although I am a classically trained singer, IKTA has allowed me to explore a different side to music making which is less rigid and prescribed. I was even convinced to play clarinet which I haven’t done for years and I have also tried experimenting with spoken word! Click here to see a Vine Video of me rediscovering my clarinet and its thanks to IKTA that I’ve started to use Vine too, which is a mobile app owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post short video clips.

Here’s to the official launch of IKTA and its future!

SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club – a successful launch to my new visual art & sound series

projected visuals for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

projected visuals for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

The launch of the new visual arts & sound series I am curating for Notting Hill Arts Club was a real success with a great night of art, sounds and music at the Club enjoyed by over 100 people!

Horseless Headmen play live for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Horseless Headmen play live for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Nicky Carvell‘s ‘Naff Graphic‘ Decals suit the industrial space of the Club perfectly and you can see them on display until the end of July.

work by Nicky Carvell for En Visage - SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

work by Nicky Carvell for En Visage – SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

IKTA performed an excellent  set with experimental layered sounds including pre recorded elements and live playing on saxophones, percussion and electronic beats. On the wall  behind the stage, short films by IKTA members Victoria Trinder, Simon West, Zachary Apo-Tsang  and Rosie Stewart fluttered in the background giving the performance area a more visually heightened atmosphere which worked well with the projections of Nicky Carvell’s specially designed En Visage logo.

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club


the crowd enjoying SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

the crowd enjoying SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club


Horseless Headmen then played their set with a range of instruments including the biggest saxophone I’ve ever seen, flute, bass guitar, guitar and a number of weird and wonderful percussive items including drums from Nick Cash. Finally, Half an Abortion – Pete Cann tested the limits of the Club’s sound system with his closing set.

En Visage logo by Nicky Carvell for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

En Visage logo by Nicky Carvell for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club






Special thanks to all the artists involved, Neil the sound technician at the Club and Calum and Dom who I work with at the Club on the series.

More photos from the night can be seen on my Facebook page here and for more information about the artists, please see a previous blog post I wrote here.

I’m looking forward to SYNESTHESIA II which will happen in August with new visual artist, film makers, music and more!

I am Curator for Notting Hill Arts Club

I have some exciting news on my career development in curating… I am now curator for Notting Hill Arts Club which is  a specialist pioneering music and arts venue. Here is what Notting Hill Arts Club say about themselves on their website:

Through conceptualising and cultivating niche, underground and genre defining nights, the artsclub has set the musical map of London. Alongside our serious graphic arts based exhibition programme, concept visuals, and extended area-shaping public arts projects, the artsclub is fundamentally explained in its belief that a world created by artists would be a better place.

What and How am I Curating at Notting Hill Arts Club?

I am very excited about this opportunity and I decided to create a new visual art and sound series for Notting Hill Arts Club which I am curating. This new programme reflects my curatorial curiosities, research and practice into new contemporary visual art work by emerging artists, sound art and the idea of the non-gallery space. The series is allowing me the profile  artists whose work I think is cutting edge, interesting and different. I will curate exhibitions around every 2 months and the opening/ private views of these shows will have a whole night created around them with sound and performance artists who I have chosen because their work fits together with the style and ethos of the venue as well as complimenting the artwork to be displayed on the walls of the Club. The process of curating in this non-gallery space is interesting and challenging as the Club is in a basement area, so it is not well lit, therefore I am also choosing art work which is vibrant and will stand out well and is appropriate to the club environment. I am also having to consider the fact that the venue is not an art gallery, so people are using the space to socialise, watch live bands and have a good time so the work needs to be secure so damage is minimised and the work is protected yet can still be enjoyed and on view. For this first exhibition, the images are being printed on matt vinyl which is a resistant material that will stick to the well used club walls like a huge sticker.

the exterior of Notting Hill Arts Club. Sandwiched between a restaurant & a hair salon, you have to be in the know to realise what's beyond the wooden doors... 'small basement, big fun' nottinghill.london.myvillage.com

the exterior of Notting Hill Arts Club. Sandwiched between a restaurant & a hair salon, you have to be in the know to realise what’s beyond the wooden doors… ‘small basement, big fun’ nottinghill.london.myvillage.com

The Idea of a Multi Purpose Arts Space

The Notting Hill Arts Club is the perfect type of venue which matches my interests and strong belief in the idea that the future for showing art work seems to more and more be the multi purpose space, meaning that a venue which artists and curators can work in, also has another strand of revenue in order to keep it going and secure its future. In the case of Notting Hill Arts Club, that’s the live music nights they put on and charge at the door for.

Online Presence and Publicity through Social Media Networks WORKS

I was actually approached by a staff member of the Notting Hill Arts Club team who had been researching artists and curators on the Internet, thanks to this blog where my work was viewed and it appealed to the person who contacted me. I’m a believer in the power of social media and free online publicity for creatives. Its working for me so far! Further to this, I have started a professional Facebook page to keep people updated on my work as a curator and you can join it by clicking here.

In my next post I’ll outline the first exhibition and event curated by me for Notting Hill Arts Club which will be happening soon.

Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London

On Wednesday 23rd May 2012 the private view for Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition took place at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. From 5.00 – 7.00pm staff, students and alumni from a number of the colleges of University of the Arts, London as well as artists, my course mates and colleagues from previous courses and jobs, friends and family came to see the exhibition and have something cold to drink on an extremely warm evening!

guests to the private view of Beyond the Bookshelves look round the exhibition at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London

As the curator, I was pleased that everything had gone to plan when installing the exhibition including having successfully managed to adhere to the strict health and safety regulations without needing to alter my layout and display plans for the exhibition. I also felt that I had overcome the restrictions that exist when using a non-gallery space which has the daily function of the library’s silent reading room by displaying exhibits in interesting ways.

view of Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground from the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design

The booklet which I wrote to accompany this exhibition which includes information on the work shown by each of the the three artists as well as texts explaining the choices I made as curator and explanations of how the exhibition came about and information on the history of the exhibition space, can be seen on the library website for Chelsea College of Art and Design under Other Guides and Publications here

You can view the floorplan map of the space as well as the list of works from the exhibition.

Just below is the edited film, included in the exhibition, which shows film and sound clips from the live performative soundwork Silent Zone, Site and Sound which I have previously written about on this blog here.

What follows in this post are a series of photographs from the installation of the exhibition and from the private view evening (which were kindly taken by Itay Greenspon).

artists Tansy Spinks and Phil Jones install Phil’s cabinet

a detailed view of the cabinet containing books by Phil Jones

work by Julie Caves as displayed in one of the cabinets

hanging paper piece by Julie Caves

objects from Silent Zone, Site and Sound live performative soundwork by Tansy Spinks

from left to right: Colonel Frank Davis – Chair of Friends of Millbank, me and George Blacklock – Dean of Chelsea College of Art and Design

from left to right: me, Professor Stephen Farthing – Rootstein Hopkins Research Chair of Drawing at Chelsea College of Art & Design, Caitlin Smyth – Chelsea Arts Club Trust Resarch Fellow and Colonel Frank Davis – Chairman of Friends of Millbank.
In the corner is artist Aaron Mcpeake who has just completed his PhD at Chelsea College of Art & Design. Aaron has displayed part of his final show in the Old College Library at the same time with my exhibition on show.

guests including Donald Smith – Director of Exhibitions, CHELSEA space and Robin Jenkins – artist and year leader on BA Interior & Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Art & Design

artists Jenny Gordon and Fiona Whitty who are alumni of MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art & Design. They now work together on Whitty Gordon Projects which involves them working on a socially engaged film project in downtown Kingston, Jamaica. I will be assisting them in their work. http://whittygordon.tumblr.com/aboutus

Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition. Curating by curatorial curiosities

I have been working hard on curating my exhibition called Beyond the Bookshelves, at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design.

It has been an exciting, interesting and busy time so far working on curating this exhibition. I have met many different people along the way, ranging from artists to an army colonel!

Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition e-vite

Beyond the Bookshelves is an exhibition showing the work of three artists who explore the themes of text and books in their work. The exhibition space being used is the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design which was the purpose built college library for the Royal Army Medical College in the early 1900s.

The exhibition displays artists’ books and book arts made by book arts artist and painter Julie Caves, objects, sound and film clips from a live performative soundwork by sound artist and photographer Tansy Spinks and a specifically built display cabinet with book material by typographer and designer Phil Jones.

The curator has deliberately chosen three artists who work with different art forms and the exhibition also addresses the curatorial issues arising from displaying an exhibition in a non gallery space that has another daily function, as the silent reading room of the library.

cabinet by Phil Jones including two books - Tunnel Book and Staircase

The Space

Editor Norman Cousins wrote that, ‘A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life’.

This is certainly true of the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design which is the space chosen by the curator to show the exhibition Beyond the Bookshelves.

The curator began to be interested in this space, after assisting artist Tansy Spinks with her performance piece Silent Zone, Site and Sound  which was part of University of the Arts Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation Research Conference – Contested Sites/Sights. During that day, the space became an inspiring and thought provoking place to be and parts of its history and current function indeed started to come to life. This occurred for example, since the artist was using William Morris’s The Aims of Art and John Ruskin’s The Mystery of Life and its’ Arts, both of which are housed in the library as part of the extensive collection. This created a link with the wider field of the history of art and the function of the space.

Book Alphabet Book X-Y spread from artists' book by Julie Caves

Curator’s Choice

The process of putting this exhibition together has not only been a vehicle to looking beyond the bookshelves and discovering the history of the space, but also a way of exploring the process of curating and the multi facetted role of the curator. In order to create this exhibition, the curator fulfilled the roles of researcher, writer, editor, logistics project manager, artistic director and negotiator. The artists showing their work in this exhibition were chosen because of their direct links to the curator and working with each of them has marked important points along her career journey. The curator met book arts artist and painter Julie Caves during a short course completed in Independent Curating, at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The curator met sound artist and photographer Tansy Spinks at a Camberwell College of Arts led trip to the Venice Biennale. This lead to the curator assisting Tansy with her live performative sound work Silent Zone, Site and Sound which was discussed in a previous blog post of mine that you can see here. The curator was introduced to the work of Phil Jones (a designer and typographer carrying out a PhD, the thesis title of which is The bones of the book: Schematic structure and meanings made from books) by Tansy Spinks at the London College of Communication PhD research show Research in Progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices. You can read more about that exhibition which I wrote about here.

I will post more updates about the exhibition as I get closer to the private view evening. Currently I am working on liaising with the library staff and making sure everything is completed logistically so that the exhibition can take place – including the risk assessment and so on, getting hold of the necessary equipment for the show from technical staff, whilst I am writing and editing content for the accompanying booklet that I am making for the exhibition which I will then format, print and bind myself.

Further Exhibition Private View information

Chelsea College of Art & Design 16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU

Location within building

Old College Library 1st Floor, Block C Access through main college entrance on Atterbury StreetWheelchair access: Yes

 Library Opening Hours

Monday       09.30 – 19.30

Tuesday       09.30 – 19.30

Wednesday 10.00 – 19.30

Thursday     09.30 – 19.30

Friday          09.30 – 17.00

Saturday     10.00 – 15.45

Sunday             Closed

By tube: Pimlico (Victoria Line) By bus: 2, 36, 185 or 436 bus from Victoria to the stop before Vauxhall Bridge and walk left along Millbank, or along John Islip Street; 88 from Oxford Circus to John Islip Street; 87 from Aldwych to Millbank. C10 from Elephant & Castle to John Islip Street. 360 from Elephant & Castle to Pimlico tube station.
By bicycle: Cycle racks are located on Atterbury Street. TfL Cycle hire docking station is located on Rampayne Street (off Vauxhall Bridge Road).

One day with a Sound Artist

As a lover of art and music, I have been enjoying exploring the burgeoning contemporary art form of sound art. Sound art has been recognised since the early 20th Century with artists such as the Futurist Luigi Russolo who wrote the treatise The Art of Noises. The Dadaists for example, also experimented with noises. By now, sound art is becoming more recognised as an art form in its own right, although it is frequently carried out in an interdisciplinary manner e.g. with explorations into the environment, the human body, sculpture, film or video. Sound art was thrust into the limelight recently in 2010 when Scottish artist Susan Philipsz won the Turner Prize with her non visual sound installation. Currently, London is home to the UK’s only sound art devoted gallery and research unit –  SoundFjord which I am sure I’ll blog about soon, once I’ve visited it in person and not just online.

I was lucky to meet sound artist Tansy Spinks when I went to the Venice Biennale in November. Tansy is also a musician and works in art and design Universities, meaning that we have quite a lot of common ground between us.

I have been assisting Tansy in a sound work called Silent Zone, Site and Sound which took place on Thursday 1st March 2012 12 noon – 6.30pm in the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design.

The Old College Library is as the name suggests, part of the old college of Chelsea College of Art & Design which is evident in the wooden features and original lecterns which may not be visible in the photographs, but are on the upper level. The Old College Library is used as a silent reading room and is home to the special collections of the library.

I had been assisting Tansy to find a special space for her sound work, as she is interested in non gallery spaces (as I also am, which was outlined in this post). The aim of the sound work was of ‘interrupting’ the everyday situation with sound. The sounds were to be prompted and determined by aspects of the site, its materials, history and useage. Equipment including microphones, a looping station and mixing desk were used to create layers of sound throughout the day so that the sound work was organic.

Once we had confirmed safe use of the space, we set up on the morning of the performance. Tansy organised her performance area with writing implements and other instruments and materials that would be used to make, record and replay sounds into the space relating to paper, writing and reading. The artist also used two texts for inspiration – William Morris’s The Aims of Art and John Ruskin’s The Mystery of Life and its’ Arts, both of which are housed in the library as part of the special collections.

the sound artist's performing space set up

Throughout the day, the artist was creating two things simultaneously. Firstly, the sounds themselves, which were created using a range of techniques from writing with a fountain pen with a sharp nib making a scratchy sound or shading with pencil for a softer sound and turning pages loudly or scrunching paper up for different sounds which were all made, recorded and replayed adding to the loop. At the same time, the large notebook that the artist wrote and drew in, would become a lasting object and documentation of the performance. The pages of the notebook were split into two – one side became a log of sounds through the day that the artist kept a running note of and on the other side Tansy wrote her own text using the Morris and Ruskin books for inspiration and citation.

During the day, the silent space was still being used by student and staff as part of the library and because we had placed two amplified speakers in hidden positions on the upper level, the ‘experiencer’ of the performance would not immediately be able to tell where the sound was coming from. Overall, this experience played on the juxtaposition of sound and silence.

I felt privileged to have been present throughout the performance and to have been able to help this exploration to come together. I found the sound work to be powerful and thought provoking and it has got me thinking about a future collaboration with Tansy, that we have already started to discuss… so watch (and listen out for) this space!