University of Birmingham artist residency

Capsule are delighted to embark upon a new partnership with the University of Birmingham, supporting an artist to make and display work in response to the university’s fascinating and varied collections.

Sound artist Sarah Farmer will be working with both the Lapworth Museum of Geology  and the Winterbourne botanical collection through spring 2013. Farmer will explore the collections, spend time with the curators and staff, and will create sound based works in response to her time there.

This a new artistic venture for the university, and an exciting opportunity for Capsule to further our artist support programme.

Sarah Farmer

“Through an investigative process of analysing the sonic properties of objects and space around me and researching data relating to these, I create audio installations and performances that are often site and context specific; attempting to use sound as a way to explore, process and expose information. I am particularly interested in physics, maths and philosophy – especially epistemology; what knowledge we have acquired and how, the many different ways we can represent information (particularly in relation to sound) and how through a creative process we can combine these to create new artifacts of value.

There is a large DIY element to the work, both in materials and process. It shares many of the characteristics of work from the Fluxus period such as using readymades, simplicity of construction and materials, improvisation and an interest in events and ‘happenings’ over stand alone objects. Indeterminacy and improvisation is used as a creative tool along side the more rigid constraints of the factual data collected for each work as a way of introducing the unexpected and combining empirical facts with our innate/native knowledge.”

Sarah Farmer at the Supersonic Taster at Eastside Projects, August 2012



The collections

The Lapworth Museum of Geology has the finest and most extensive collections of fossils, minerals and rocks in the Midlands. The Museum dates back to 1880, and is one of the oldest specialist geological museums in the UK.

Winterbourne is one of the best surviving examples of an Edwardian Arts and Crafts suburban villa garden. The garden today is still used by students but is also open to the public.

Whilst one collection preserves the dead and the fossilised, the other supports and sustains life.


Winterbourne Gardens

May progress

Sarah has been busily exploring the collections at Winterbourne and Lapworth Museum of Geology over the last few months, making new work inspired by the botanic and fossil collections. Here is her first update on the residency, with some amazing images.

“The Lapworth collection is home to hundreds of fossils, maps and geological items, whilst the arts and crafts era Winterbourne House houses, amongst many other living libraries, a rare collection of succulents as well as display glasshouses containing plants from all over the world. It also features an original letter printing press which can be used by visitors.

Using techniques relevant to archeology and the arts and crafts movement – casting and printmaking (screen, letterpress and photoengraving) I have been gathering images and objects that focus on the textures of the fossils and plants to make my own ‘collection’ based on pattern, texture and the similar designs of the minerals and flora.

This collection will take shape as a set of records formed not by cutting or pressing but by casting images into resin which, which when played on a record player will provide a multitude of different sonic textures, beats and drones that will serve as a sonic archive of the objects and will be used to create a new sonic work.  Following the notion of collections, a series of poster prints and printed record sleeves will accompany the discs.”


June progress

Here Sarah tells us a bit about her process.

Sarah made this vacuum print bed…

“DIY has been the name of the game this month. I have been making my own vacuum print bed for screen printing record sleeves and posters, and a UV lightbox in order to make silk screens and photoetchings using imagery taken at the university’s collections. They won’t win any awards for design – they are made almost entirely from reclaimed materials, but they do work.

…and a UV lightbox

Along with making my tools, I have been starting to make my own collection of artefacts – copies of fossils, etchings, using the printing press and i even have my own slice of cactus awaiting further artistic treatment. At this stage, everything is in a developmental stage as I turn raw photos into physical objects through sculptural and printing process, which will ultimately result in the making of sound sculptures.”

Skeleton etching – these etchings will be used to make a sound piece

Casts of fossils


Sound artist Sarah Farmer has spent a number of months working and researching intensively at the Lapworth Museum of Geology  and the Winterbourne botanical collection and will exhibit her sound and print work at the university through Autumn 2013.

Sarah’s work will be on display at Winterbourne on Thursday 24th October for two weeks before moving to Lapworth Museum of Geology on Thursday 7th November until Sunday 24th November. Come and explore the university’s collections in a way you’d never imagined.