Bill Fontana - River Sounding
15 April - 31 May 2010
A journey through the hidden sound worlds of the River Thames
Somerset House was built with its own front door onto the river, The Great Arch, from which the Navy Board's ornate gilded barge would sail upriver to Whitehall. Artist Bill Fontana returned the river to the building with River Sounding, an impressive sound installation that created an acoustic journey through the little known subterranean spaces of Somerset House.
Over several months, Fontana collected hundreds of hours of audio and video from above and below the surface of the Thames, from Richmond to remote locations in the Estuary, to reveal the hidden stories and sound-worlds of the river in a public artwork.
Images and sounds installed in the Lightwells and Dead House - spaces far below the courtyard, usually closed to the public - created an intimate, acoustic journey and reinstated the forgotten shared history of Somerset House and the Thames.
Bill Fontana, one of the world's leading sound artists, has installed public artworks at iconic locations in many of the world's great cities, including London's Millennium Bridge and Big Ben, San Francisco's Golden Gate and Paris's Arc de Triomphe.
River Sounding was accompanied by a series of talks and screenings by writers and artists including Richard Wilson and Iain Sinclair. See below for details: