Rosie Ann Boxall
I am a sound designer and installation artist, devoted to playful uses of voice and the tradition of orality. After my background training in sound for TV, film and radio at the University of Lincoln, I have expanded my practice at the Royal College of Art into art installations for education. I believe that the future of education is interactive, moving away from linear curriculums and towards more positive learning spaces and practices. I aim to do this by creating sound installations designed to teach art, history and science, as well as listening and communication skills.
Previous work: C(h)oral, IRCAM, Paris (2020); Play, The Crypt Gallery, London (2019); The Colour Wall, The Collection, Lincoln (2019).
The Magical Stones of Old Britain
I am designing a sound sculpture that welcomes children and adults alike experience folktales through voice and storytelling. Taking the form of a stone circle, speakers hidden in five stones will play a looping multichannel mix of spoken myths from the British Isles. Interactors can stand, sit, or move around the circle to listen to the stories told and rediscover, connect to and celebrate the lost folktales of Britain. The five stones represent five folkloric figures all with their own personalities and narrating styles, highlighting the fragile and ever-changing nature of oral storytelling.
For accessibility and online preservation, a final binaural mix of the final audio piece will be available too.
The stone circle has been inspired by my deep interest in folklore, myth and oral history, as well as my dissertation on the importance of sound at megalithic sites. I believe that folklore is a key part of British history that isn’t explored in modern society, but it would be very valuable to experience for all ages. These rich stories we can further interest in British heritage, increase imagination and encourage discovery.
At this stage, I have completed the construction of first stone in the circle and recording of the narrator for it.
Thanks for support on this project go to: Debbie Anzalone, Matt Lewis, Christoper G Jones, Tom Railton, John Boxall and Harry Page.
Model of Circle — A quick mock up of how the five stones standing together.
The Knight Stone — The first stone in the circle, the Knight Stone
It is presumed that one of the uses of stone circles was as a space for gathering and sharing of stories, a social place for learning and discussion. Likewise, there are many myths of megalitic stones talking and telling prophecies to visitors, such as the Whispering Knights at the Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire. This inspired me to use a stone circle as a vessel for audio performance, sonic art, and finally, my idea of oral storytelling.
The circle is made up of four sculptures of stones, individual in shape and size. The speakers inside the stones are positioned at two vertical levels, pointing towards the centre, so the best area to listen is when inside the circle. The rest of the space is left empty for visitors to move around the space and listen to the folktales as they wish.
These are the characterisations of each of the voices heard in the piece. Every character has their own unique perspective on the stories being told, what they believe to be true, and how they express that to the listener.
I hope interactors understand the value of oral culture and sharing stories through voice. Oral culture used to be a huge part of our daily lives, but it is being used less and less in modern societies. I want to remind the public of pleasure and entertainment that spoken storytelling has.
A mysterious mother like figure, like a fortune teller or prophet. She mainly talks in cryptic and verse. She wants to teach the listener but not give everything away. She uses these to imply that what she says is the listener’s future. A soft voice, with years and years of knowledge and wisdom behind it.
A loud, boisterous man who thinks he is the centre of the universe. He always has a story to tell, usually about “someone he knows” and tells these anecdotes to entertain the listener. However, he will try to add his morals into the stories he tells and usually victimise himself. He speaks very colloquially, like talking to an old friend.
A stone-faced informant. He is an encyclopaedia of information, only speaking to provide the facts, like an officer reporting in a war room. He is well spoken and clear, leaving no room for error, but also speaks slowly making sure his word choice is correct and the listener has a chance to process what he is saying.
Multiple voices of the Good Folk, joking with themselves just to have fun. They are observers of the world, and so they talk about things they have seen, but would never get themselves involved. They instead they tell stories through poems they have found, taking on the persona of the writer.
A mischief maker whose only goal is to get a reaction from the listener, mainly one of fear. He is unbothered by those around him, and so will twist his stories to make them scarier. Much like telling a story around a campfire, his voice is very low and quiet, but uses volume to get a jumpscare. You can tell he is grinning when he talks.
The Knight Stone Frame — A technical drawing of the frame that supports the Knight Stone.
The Knight Stone
Close up of The Knight Stone
Each stone in the circle is unique. The first stone is the tallest: The Knight Stone.
From previous experiments, I determined the best way to construct the full sized sculpture and the materials that would work best. I made a wooden frame for the basic shape. It is designed to slant to the side slightly and have an uneven top, as well as a shelf to support one of the speakers. From the frame, I added chicken wire for structure, then multiple layers of paper mache. For texture I used a stone texture spray, and for detail and aging I used acrylic paint.
Medium:Wood, wire mesh, paper, stone texture spray, paint
Recording of the Knight's stories has been completed, conducted remotely over Zoom with Christopher G Jones. I plan to record the other narrators over the coming months.