Call Up The Men
Introduction & Context :
Commissioned by Durham Art Gallery and Durham Light Infantry Museum
Funded by Arts Council England
Call Up The Men uses a few bold metaphorical brush strokes to illustrate a complex and many-hued picture, in sound and brass.
To the visitorís eyes the piece is an authentic Army bugle, mounted on a plinth. To the visitorís ears comes the content of the piece: Bugle calls, recorded for this project by Alan Tamblyn and Craig Rosser of the Buglersí Association, sound from the instrument mounted on the plinth. Each bugle call is Echoed by a sung rendition, performed by folk singer Liam Robinson for Call Up The Men. Liam voices lyrics, set to the calls by players and troops, learning to play and respond to them through the years.
The work is inspired by the transparent and evocative nature of the bugle calls and instrument. It was researched with The British Armyís Buglersí Association. Click here for further bugle info, and here full printable programme notes.
The bugle is compact, low-tech and highly portable, itself a testament to the real-world field work it has been called upon to do (pun unplanned yet fully intended!). Its calls have directed infantry troops through the centuries, in their own voice and manner: stoic, good-humoured, irreverend and very effective!
The words are poignant, dark and witty in equal measure, an insight into the personalities of the men who made them. These calls demonstrate the obvious but often-denied truth, that fighting troops are, first and foremost, human beings, much more similar to the rest of us than they are different.
Click here for more of Call Up The Menís creative context.
Call Up The Men is programmed to appear in 8 museums in England and Wales, until the end of 2016. Click here for the full tour schedule, with precise opening dates and times to be added for each venue, as they become available.
Click here to listen to a radio piece, produced and presented by Kate Peel, for her Radio Degree portfolio at the University of Lincoln.
Thanks to Radio Degree student Kate Peel, Course Leader Zara Healy and the University of Lincoln for contributing this work, providing further background and context for Call Up The Men, as youíll see it in host venues. Iím pleased to be including this piece in the project, giving further insight into the subject matter and show-casing radio production by a promising young practitioner.
Tour Schedule :
NB : All shows listed are confirmed to the month. Details of precise showing dates and times will be added as they are specified. Please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or sign up for mailings at amieslavin.co.uk for alerts when precise dates are announced; thank you.
There are 2 copies of Call Up The Men: the first went on display at Cardiff Castleís Museum of the Welsh Soldier, (link) as part of their Waterloo bicentenary exhibition from 8 June 2015. It will remain with them permanently, on display and in use as an educational tool for outreach purposes.
The second copy, fulfilling the originally commissioned exhibition, opens at Durham Art Gallery on 18 July and runs until 4 October. Thereafter it will show at:
Cumbria's Museum of Military Life in Carlisle, October/December 2015.
The Fusiliers Museum, Bury, Dec 2015/Mar 2016.
Fort Nelson Hampshire, April/June 2016.
Museum of the Corps of Army Music, Twickenham, June/August 2016.
Museum of the Royal Corps of Signals, Dorset, August/November 2016.
Programme Notes : please click here full printable programme notes
Creative Context within the artist's practice.
Call Up The Men follows my previous work on this subject, Other Ranks, which addresses similar topics in a highly complex 16.4 channel extended surroundscape featuring primary source interviews with current and former servicemen. It is set amidst performed first-hand accounts written down by veterans of earlier conflicts, with additional training sounds, music and poetry. Other Ranks is an intricate weave of sound and voice, explicitly exploring the reality of Army life, in training and in combat. Its forty minutesí duration is packed with intense texture and complexity.
Call Up The Men interrogates the same subject matter but with a few, much lighter, strokes, making it more immediately accessible to the public, especially youngsters, as well as being easier for venues to install and operate.
The two pieces together are a manifestation of my deep interest in representing military people as fully-rounded and real. Their courage and resilience in extreme adversity show their humanity, in the very best sense. These very qualities, however, are often mistaken for evidence that their needs are less pressing and thus their feelings less important.
I am a female, blind civilian and as such, thankfully, have no direct experience of warfare at all. However, my experience of exclusion, marginalisation and prejudice has instilled in me a compulsion to use creative means to represent those with a largely unheard public voice. My passion for this subject has many deep and diverse roots and catalysts; however at its heart itís a reflection of my own resonance with those our society disparages, misrepresents and refuses to hear.
Call Up The Men pursues the central focus of my practice, (see Yan Tan Tethera and Babel Spring): all human beings are of equal value, all deserve a voice; we are all far more similar than we are different, no matter how earnestly we cling to our cultural "us and them". In making this piece I am heavily reliant on input from military types, without whose advice, trust, encouragement and friendship it would not be possible to interpret and present this sombre subject matter with authority. The work exists because of the support it receives from its participants; my heartfelt thanks are due to the men who speak, both to me and to my work.
Call Up The Men has been made with contributions from the following individuals and organisations, without whom it would not have been possible. My huge and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped, including...
Durham Art Gallery/Durham Light Infantry Museum, project investment and support.
Alan Tamblyn, for bugle performance, content research and partnership through development.
Craig Rosser, bugle performance and advice re purposes and likely times of the various calls used.
John Henry, the Buglersí Association, providing the correct and historical bugle for use in the work.
Liam Robinson, folk singer, vocal performance.
Mark Hudson (Hi-Q Sound), Audio hardware Engineer.
Gaz Bailey, Sound Engineer.
Rory Hunter, Sound Engineer.
Kate Peel, emerging radio producer.
Zara Healy and the University of Lincoln.
Morris Mulligan and Brickbeat Studios Lincoln.
Chris Lawton, Durham Light Infantry.
Colin Dean, Archivist, Museum of the Corps of Army Music.
Preview Sounds :
Here are some of the sounds of Call Up The Men, so you can preview parts of the work before you visit it. When the main tour is completed the full-length audio of the piece will be made available. Meanwhile, here are some sample sounds to give you a flavour: