DD Day 2021 – 4 new artist commissions – 2 new AV works

We are excited to be able to offer 4 artists commissions this year as part of our Delia Derbyshire Day 2021 project.

These will be 2 x new electronic music/sound and visual based art commissions.

We will present the 2 new audio-visual works on DD Day 2021.

This opportunity is funded by Arts Council England (North West) and The Granada Foundation, hence the North West England regional focus.

Artists respond to the theme of imagination as well as Delia’s archive based at John Rylands Library in Manchester, UK.

Follow us on our social media channels or join our mailing list as we countdown to DD Day 2021’s new collaborative art presentations on 23 November! 

Introducing our DD Day 2021 artists

DD Day 2021 audio-visual commission 1: Suzy Mangion & Katie Mason

“Location:Gisland” – film & sound/music – 12 mins

“As a composer Delia Derbyshire had a rare gift of never imagining the obvious. She was able to take musical sounds in unexpected directions, without fuss or pretension,  imagining whole musical worlds in miniature.”

I’m Suzy Mangion, a singer, music and sound maker, and audio-visual historian. This commission marks my return after a long break from public music making, during which I did a PhD on Surrealist film soundtracks.

I’m delighted to be collaborating with visual artist Katie Mason, who shares my niche love of outmoded aesthetics and the slightly eerie. We’re making a short film called Location: Gilsland inspired by the Cumbrian village where Delia lived for a few years in the 1970s after leaving the
BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

My admiration for Delia Derbyshire predates this commission by a long way. I discovered her in the early 2000’s on reissues of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop compilation albums. I love working with sounds found around me – toys, furniture, even carpet – and it was comforting to hear Delia before me, transforming a lampshade or a bottle. I thought I knew enough about her. But working intensely on this project, visiting her archive, and immersing myself in the music, has changed the way I relate to her. 

So much in the archive has inspired us – pressed flowers from a childhood holiday, a schoolgirl essay “The Happiest Day of My Life” about a trip to the sea, and – sound wise – the “Inventions for Radio” were a highlight. Throughout this project, I’ve kept wondering what Delia would have made of what we’re doing. I wonder if she’d have been pleased, baffled or bothered by our take on this odd place she escaped to and stayed awhile.

“Delia Derbyshire’s methods of creating sounds are a constant inspiration to me. She took the ordinary and experimented with its potential to become something extraordinary.

I’m Katie Mason, a Visual Artist working in Manchester. I’m a maker of many bits and pieces,  working mainly in illustration and sculpture. I have a very playful , DIY approach to making art. I’m a collector (some would say hoarder!) of materials, objects, images, words and outmoded equipment. I’m inspired by pop culture, the humdrum of daily life, outsider art, street lights, vintage crisp packets, high fashion, roadside America, a cat eating a moth or a dog looking at a leaf.

For the Delia Derbyshire Day commission I am creating a film in collaboration with Suzy Mangion. We have spent many hours over zoom, sharing a love for teletext, the eerie and odd, vintage educational programmes and advert archives. This shared interest led us to making a short film titled -“Location: Gilsland”, inspired by the Cumbrian village that Delia moved to after leaving the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. 

A particular item that spoke to me on visiting the archive was in a beautiful, delicate old sketch book with flying swans printed on the cover. Inside was a page of dried flowers, collected by Delia on a holiday to Scotland in 1951. So neatly displayed and labeled, taped down and in one piece after all the years. I collected flowers and plants on my trip to Gilsland, an activity I haven’t done for many years.

Delia Derbyshire’s methods of creating sounds are a constant inspiration to me. She took the ordinary and experimented with its potential to become something extraordinary. I’m interested in the idea of taking things out of their original role in our world and playing with them, imagining what they could be if you look at them differently. 

DD Day 2021 audio-visual commission 2: MT Hall & Lacey Liang

“Hybrid Ecologies: between sky and soil” – 3D design/film and music/sound – 10 mins

Delia’s work shows how we can grow and lean into the fullness of our imagination and with that, its power.”

I am an artist, music producer and DJ performing under the moniker M T Hall.  With a focus on emotionally experimental electronic music, my background as a visual artist has translated into building dense sonic structures derived from my multidisciplinary approach and social praxis. For the DD Day 2021 commission, I am collaborating with Lacey Liang, a 3D concept artist. Her futuristic and hyper-real aesthetics has been so exciting to respond to and work with.

Delia’s continuous boundary-pushing and experimental approach to the production and manipulation of everyday sounds and objects has been hugely influential in my practice, particularly her playfulness and the way in which she merges the real with the unreal. Our visit to The Delia Derbyshire Archive was so inspiring: diving into her process and material was the perfect stimulus for the commission! I was particularly immersed in Delia’s dark ambient soundscapes created for ‘The Dreams’ and ‘Heavenly Choir’ in ‘Amor Dei’, as well as her workbook notes from the BBC Radiophonic workshop.

My ambition for the commission was to enter into a dialogue with the natural and technological through the cross-pollination of acoustic and synthetic ensembles, and found sounds from the outside world. Sound walks in both nature and urban areas fed my imagination for the pieces, with felid recordings forming the palette. Lacey and I gathered audio and visual material from the real world, using them to create new imagined digital worlds. We have produced two pieces, responding to one another’s process and material.

“I was particularly inspired by Delia’s working notes from her years working in the BBC. Her collaborating method was very structural, very meticulous.

I’m a 3D artist based in Liverpool, my name is Lacey Liang. I come from graphic design background and I realised I could hardly express myself within 2D images, so I taught myself C4D along with other 3D softwares.

I’m really grateful that I could be working with MT Hall, she’s an amazing sound artist and I love every track she has produced.  Her tracks are very inspirational and imaginative.

Knowing that Delia worked in a male-dominated industry and thrived is very inspirational for me, because I’m working in a male-dominated industry as well. She’s a drive for me to fight the female stereotype, being avant-grade and push my own boundaries. So DD Day’s 2021 theme of imagination fits my purposes well, because anything I do in my digital world will be an expression of imagination.

I was particularly inspired by Delia’s working notes from her years working in the  BBC. Her collaborating method was very structural, very meticulous. I also adopted a very similar approach during this creation.

MT and I are gathering materials from the real world and turning them into digital pieces while responding to each other.