Caterham School residency

A pupil entering the interactive sound installation Homefield in Caterham School's cricket pavilion. Photograph: Tamsin Williams.
A pupil entering the interactive sound installation Homefield in Caterham School’s cricket pavilion. Photograph: Tamsin Williams.


The Cricket Pavilion, Caterham School, 14 – 22 Mar 2002

This was a sound installation in the school’s cricket pavilion. A soundtrack of noisy, chattering voices could be heard when approaching the room. On entering, this loud sound suddenly stopped, and was replaced by a whispered and ambiguous counting. The visitor was free to imagine who the voice belonged to and what activity they were involved in. The room was intimate in its smallness, which was reflected by the quiet whispering. It contrasted with the larger areas of the surrounding institution. In such a space one could contemplate the history of the institution and how it has been affected by numbers in various forms, such as cricket scores or the number of pupils who have passed through the school.

Homefield grew out of an experience I had walking into a class of talking pupils who immediately went quiet when I entered the room. During my time spent at Caterham School I observed strong contrasts between hearing noise at break times, and silence during lessons. When a conversation stops on entering a room it can be both unsettling – because you are not a part of the noise – and powerful because you have control over the noise. I wanted to give the visitor to this installation a similar experience of controlling sound.

I chose this specific room because the space held a particular resonance for me. Its low ceiling, wooden stairs and floor suggested an attic, or a hiding place tucked away in the corner of the corridor. It housed a childhood nostalgia: memories of playing games, hiding, a look-out post, or finding solitude whilst still being able to observe the rest of the world through the window. It could also be perceived as quite the opposite: a place of confinement with its brick walls and bare wooden furniture.


Gold Plaque Series

A site-specific installation of plaques throughout the school by Tamsin Williams, Caterham students and staff

The Gold Plaque Series commemorated some everyday places of significance for the school’s students and staff. Each plaque was etched with a handwritten observation about a place in the school and located in the place described. I interviewed and gave out slips of paper to students and staff, inviting them to write or tell me where they enjoyed being or felt most comfortable in the school. Some plaques were not written by the author in order to involve more people in producing the work, and also enabling the author to remain anonymous. The language and spelling was intentionally left exactly the way it was written because the series was about the identity of certain groups of people with these places. Therefore their own use of language and handwriting revealed a personal connection between each place and its users.

Project funded by Caterham School
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