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Artists given £50,000 to build a giant mobile 'organ'

By This is Devon  |  Posted: October 06, 2010

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TOTNES-based artists David Prior and Frances Crow have been handed £50,000 to build a giant 'organ' that will recycle noise and create new sounds.

The couple will then tour the 'Organ of Corti', named after a part on the inner ear, around the country where it will 'listen' to sounds like traffic on the M6 in Cumbria and a weir in Worcestershire.

David and Frances have won the cash award by taking the top spot in the Performing Rights Society Foundation's New Music Award which is aimed at promoting and stimulating musical innovation in the UK.

The couple have already built a prototype version of The Organ of Corti which stands 1.5 metres high.

The version that goes on tour will be on a 'much larger scale', explained Frances, but just how big no-one yet knows.

Said Frances: "Winning the award was fantastic, and now the tough part comes. With the award money we will be working with the Open University over the next nine months to build the 'Organ of Corti' and tour it around the UK. We have really appreciated the support we've received from the people in the South West."

David and Frances have lived in Totnes for the last nine years where they launched their Liminal arts practice, looking at projects dealing in art and design.

David is a sound artist and composer who works as a lecturer with the Dartington College of Art. Frances is an architect and a former lecturer with the University of Plymouth.

A short film of the Organ of Corti prototype was screened at Dartington Hall, alongside the four other shortlisted nominees, throughout the summer. Visitors to the hall and participants of Dartington International Summer School were encouraged to have their say by voting for their favourite idea by text or online.

The New Music Award's judging panel, who were unanimous in their decision, included panel chair and chief arts editor for the Guardian Charlotte Higgins; artist Martin Creed; composer Michael Finnissy; pianist Joanna MacGregor; singer/songwriter Bishi; and music journalist and critic Paul Morley.

The Organ of Corti will be premiered during the 2011 City of London Festival. Three further performances will take place in Tebay Gorge beside the M6 in the Lake District, the Cotswold Water Park in Wiltshire and Diglis Weir in Worcester. Organ of Corti is designed as a mobile structure that filters or recycles the noise of its surroundings.

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    Dr. Lubin, Wellswood  |  October 06 2010, 8:15PM

    Well done - terrific news. Looking forward to the results.

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    geoff, Torquay  |  October 06 2010, 6:04PM

    Someone mention 'organ' you could have the Mayor for free, I'm sure many in the bay would be happy!