The Great Whin Sill is a layer of igneous dolerite rock that extends across North East England and makes strategic appearances at several significant and ancient locations in Northumberland. Hadrian’s Wall and Dunstanburgh Castle are fortifications built onto this blue-grey layer, rocks that are seemingly unaffected by erosion and carry marks from the last ice age. The Farne Islands, an archipelago rising out from the North Sea a few kilometres offshore are the final exposed links of the Whin Sill.
The cliffs and stacks of Staple island are occupied by seabirds: in season this is a densely packed gathering of high-rise communities. In the basement, grey seals bask on the rocks at sea level, their strange siren songs echoing the voices which drew sailors towards a watery grave here centuries ago. Shags, guillemots and razorbills balance together on the shelflike layers above and colonies of puffins occupy a honeycomb of burrows on the grassy banks.
Above, the air is punctuated by the battle cries of arctic terns defending their sites from all intruders with their blood-red bills.
Read ‘Ears to the Ground’ – an introduction to Chris Watson’s work and his Kings Place residency.
This sound installation can be heard from 25 April until 19 June 2020 ahead of all Nature Unwrapped concerts taking place in Hall One. Access to the installation requires a concert ticket for the relevant main event in Hall One.