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Sound Mirrors by Sian Gledhill


Sat 13 Sep – Sun 21 Sep | 11.00 - 19.00
FF Harbour Hub

Sian Gledhill is an artist who has established herself through a series of investigations into the cultural and historical forces that surround her. Fascinated by the defunct, the obsolete and redundant forms of storytelling, she uses items of nostalgia, ephemera or personal archives to stage a re-encountering of the familiar. Through performance and film she often conducts playful interventions, opening up new dialogues with a place and its history.

Sian lives and works in London.


Sian Gledhill
Sound Mirrors & Radar

Along the Kent coastline lie remnants of Britain's wartime past. Historic lookout posts, still listening, still performing, like forgotten sentinels still standing guard. Each device lurks ominously, but majestically, upon high cliffs or open dunes. A precursor to radar, acoustic mirrors were built on the south coast of England during WWI. These ‘listening ears’ were intended to provide early warning of incoming enemy aircraft. For almost two decades these concrete monoliths protected our shores until the new Chain Home radar system evolved, finally rendering the mirrors obsolete. Now these technologies past and present surpass and endure, side by side.

The sculptural forms of these objects are immediately powerful, but their point of focus is imperceptible. Sound Mirror, shot on the cliffs of Folkestone, fills a giant immovable object with the lightness of human intervention. Echoing the sound waves that bounce around the acoustic mirror, the opaque foreground object oscillates in silence, its recurrent misalignment ensuing continual obstruction.

Similarly anonymous and oblique, modern day antennae and communications masts stand alongside their predecessors, performing the same guardsmen-like duties. Radar documents the uniform rotating action of a radar antenna, which serves the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Perched high on the cliffs of Dover it spins silently out of reach, its omnipresent purpose impenetrable without reveal. Why is it spinning? What is it listening to?

Echoing the revolving rhythms of the radar above, the film Transport documents cars and lorries as they embark and disembark via interconnecting ramps and one-way systems down below. The port of Dover is a transient place where traffic ebbs and flows with each vessel ferrying back and forth across the sea. Observed from a distance, each vehicle, with their passengers and cargo, perform as one continuous ephemeral cycle. What are the reasons for their journeys? Are they arriving or returning?