Celebrating International Women’s Day with Composer-in-Residence Mary Hampton

Each year, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation profiles a student, staff or resident artists as part of the International Women's Day celebrations. West Dean is committed to providing equal opportunities across all of its activity in the arts, conservation and making and are proud to support the International Women's Day #EachforEqual campaign.

This year we are profiling our Resident Composer, Mary Hampton. Here Mary tells us about her current project working with items from the College's collection:

As part of my residency I've been exploring the acoustic properties of the West Dean 'Batterie de Cuisine' (an extensive collection of historic copper kitchenware that was used to prepare meals for the James family throughout the 20th Century). From an idea originally inspired by a visit to the breathtaking kitchens at nearby Petworth House, the aim of my project here is to use the West Dean Batterie to research a range of conservation-safe ways to sound historic vessels such as these and to create a small site-specific percussion orchestra for which I can compose a suite of pieces. The unique and intricate sound world of each vessel I've analysed so far is created by accumulated surface anomalies, stress points and tempering from continual use by different hands and heat sources over many decades. As a way of conjuring up the voices of the past kitchen staff members who once called West Dean their home, and who nourished Edward James and his family with their skill using these marvellous tools, I see this project as a way of creating an unusual posthumous conversation between James, a man who nourished the art-world with his patronage and his poetic craftsmanship, and the unsung people in his kitchen who fed him and his imagination from childhood.

You can celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th by highlighting the women who inspire you most @westdeancollege @womensday #IWD2020


West Dean Composer in Residence Mary Hampton. Photo: Emile Holba

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