Radio Droogdok Crew
Tara Downs is a cross-disciplinary artist whose practice draws on a background in Social Anthropology and Museum Studies.
As Miniature Museum, a collaboration with partner Bart Sabel, she produces interventions ranging in scale from tiny cabinets of curiosities to large scale sculpture for festivals, theatre and public events.
Armed with an unerring eye for the beautiful and a passion for public engagement, since 2012 Tara has carved out a niche with her creative approaches to heritage interpretation. Playful, informative installations fuse hand-crafted and digital processes, steam-age engineering, storytelling and a delicate attention to detail, and mix fact and fantasy to enchant audiences and provoke participation.
Her offshoot project, Radio Droogdok, explores a love of radio, communication and sonic experimentation.
Tara lives in a house that smells of burnt dust and Bakelite, has an entire room full of ancient radios, and can only sleep to the hiss of static.
Tara on the Radiophonic Hut
The making of the hut was with the intention of creating a fun, immersive, intimate environment that gave an atmosphere and in which people could sit and feel comfortable and have a conversation.
It’s largely because that worked so well that the project gained such momentum – the hut was a magnet for people and new ideas and generated so much new material on its travels I can hardly keep up with what to do with that all!
Because of my interest in collecting and archiving and love of creating miniature museum installations, it just asked to become a touring miniature museum of radio related histories invention and sound, and that it could be a project for a small team. We’ve been looking for a new miniature museum project and theme that could be tour-able, and in miniature Museum style and approach could engage and collect and feed into itself along the way.
The Radiophonic Hut is both installation and tool to collect stories on any subject. Hence the strapline – “Actively archiving through audio and exchange”
It’s been a difficult year with Corona limitations, not least in just being able to reach out to places and organisations in the meantime, as so many places are closed with only an answerphone, and emails bounce back from furloughed staff. So even where we’ve been doing a lot of background work development experimenting and reworking our ideas to fit this situation, there is a bit of a block in bringing plans forward with new partners.
If you’re reading this and are interested in what we do please do get in touch! We are fizzing with static to make new plans and apply this project to different situations and needs!
Coming from a background of theatre design and build, sculpture and off-the-wall street theatre lunacy in his native Holland, and having toured internationally with Dutch experimental theatre groups Silo Theatre and Rauser, Bart brings his largely self-taught, ever-expanding and very in-demand expertise in craft, design and technology to the creative table as one half of ‘intervention artists’ Miniature Museum.
Specialising in the use of more or less refined mechanics, often combined with electronics, Bart finds ingenious solutions to construction and architectural challenges, has turned his hand to everything from street theatre sets to interactive museum exhibits, and has perfected a mechanism for hurling a potato across a town square and converting it into chips without human intervention.
Bart on Radio Hut Origins
When Tara came up with the idea of a project to do with radio, I thought: ‘What’s my contribution going to be? Radio is ephemeral, intangible. I deal with matter, sculpture, the 3 dimensional.’
That’s how the idea of the Radio Hut started, an atmospheric place where these two seemingly opposites come together.
An unexpected challenge turned out to be to make the hut deliberately wonky. I wanted it to look like something you find in the back of an overgrown garden. Something bending under the weight of time. Being conditioned to make things true and straight I had to take care not to relapse into that.
Further down the line we had to dive into reviving obsolete electronics, valve radios.
A whole new realm of romantic beauty and radio made tangible.
Euan ‘Maco’ McAleece
Providing Radio Drookdok with development and production support, Maco is a creative audio freelance: producer, editor, consultant and all-round tech wiz. He’s been station manager for Brighton’s Radio Reverb community radio station, producer for FUBAR and Dabster productions, and as a freelancer, has worked for BBC Scotland and Radio 4’s The Listening Project, as well editing and mastering for various podcast clients.
He teaches all aspects of radio craft (from presenting skills to audio editing, from interview techniques to making sound effects), is an advocate of digital media, podcasting and social networking and has a keen interest in new audio techniques, media theory, emerging technologies and platforms.
Making other people’s dreams reality on a daily basis, Maco is a dab hand at site-specific audio tech solutions and on the spot recording, editing and archiving. He lives in Eastbourne, Sussex.
Maco on Radio Transmission Art
This is a project that really has vibrations for me as an audio and radio practitioner, I can share my knowledge and experiences, helping the various manifestations of radiophonic work take shape. Be it audio, installations, found sound, field recording, story collection, or theatre.
It’s refreshing to be able to flex my creative muscles, but also supporting others to take ideas and turn them into a reality, means I am constantly developing my technical skills. I find teaching others to be an extremely valuable way to develop my own practice. I’ve also been delving into new areas such as video production.
I love the energy of working with people who are highly talented and bring passion and enthusing energy to everything they do.
I look forward to exploring the possibilities of what we can do with the Radio Hut and the wider project. Creating work in the physical realm and experiments with radio transmission art, and theatre, blending with the digital world of the internet and mobile technologies.
An economic refugee from the home counties, Jonny has, for over twenty years, deafly fused bittersweet autobiography, disillusionment and surreal whimsy as a spoken word performer, poet and theatre maker- a firm favourite at festivals, arts centres and housing benefit offices across the country.
He has two volumes of poetry, prose and threadbare philosophy out on the Burning Eye imprint, and he has toured his solo ‘lo-fi stand-up spoken word theatre’ shows around the garden sheds, allotments and summer houses of Britain, as well as conventional theatres, in a blatant championing of intimacy, connection and DIY culture.
He has run hundreds of workshops in writing and performance, to people of all ages and body types, in schools, libraries, prisons, hospitals, care homes and youth centres- in fact, anywhere where the desire to be creative has reared its beautiful head.
He has two children and seven functioning radios.
Jonny on the Inherent Magic of Analogue Radio
What do you love about the project?
For me, it’s that radio is wrapped up with stories, and intimacy, and the imagination. That inspires me. As does this inherent magic and mystery of analogue radio. This project is just made for warm glows and huddled-round-the-speaker storytelling. And, as a pathologically solo performer, it’s wonderful to be working with other artists, bouncing off the brilliance of others.
What have you learned from working on the project?
I’m gradually (slowly and incrementally) learning ways of playing with audio; recording techniques and adapting my normally physical and live-oriented writing and performance style for a whole new medium. It’s wonderful and enriching to learn from others, and alongside them. To share and grow. I can feel a whole new direction coming on.
What’s a favourite aspect?
The little tin shed, the sheen of bakelite and the smell of baking dust.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forwards to getting it out there, however that might end up being in these strange times. Maybe my little show all about radio will have to become a radio show itself, sent out as a ghost into the ether in the hope that someone, somewhere, will tune in and have it spill from the endless static…