Bethan Huws & The Bistritsa Babi: ‘Singing for the Sea’ (1993)

Film Installation: 6 July - 8 September 2013

In 1993 Bethan Huws orchestrated a memorable performance called A Work for the North Sea. The work was made in collaboration with a group of Bulgarian grandmothers, The Bistritsa Babi, who, for an hour each evening for three days that summer, stood at high tide and sang to the sea. Huws first researched the music that she had heard in the National Sound Archive in London. It appeared to be a particular form of antiphonal choral singing which was still practised in Bulgaria, based on groups of women singing in the open air – calling out to each other. With the help of a choral expert she found the Bistritsa Babi, whom she invited to perform in Craster on the unspoilt Northumbrian coastline. In this film that documents the performance, their haunting melodies combine with the rumbling of the sea to create a unique polyphony of sound and voice. The project was commissioned and produced by Artangel and is on loan from The Artangel Collection at Tate.

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