Interview: Sarah Kenchington, creator of Wind Pipes For Edinburgh

This article is from 2013

Sarah Kenchington: Wind Pipes For Edinburgh

credit: Sarah Kenchington Wind Pipes for Edinburgh 2012 Copyright EAF commissions

The hand-built, interactive musical installation will feature music from eagleowl and the One Ensemble’s Daniel Padden

Sarah Kenchington has no desire to be a one-woman band. This is clear in her latest hand-built musical instrument/installation for the EAF, an interactive construction made from 100 decommissioned church organ pipes, which, with no keyboards involved, requires at least six players to operate the bellows.

‘The pipe organ’s becoming a bit of an endangered species,’ says Kenchington, who began making Heath Robinson-esque musical instruments out of collected detritus a decade ago.

‘A lot of them are being scrapped, because they’re incredibly expensive to maintain and repair, so this has become a bit of an orphanage for unwanted pipes. Normally only one bloke gets to play a church organ, but now anyone can play.’

This is part of a mission Cambridge-born Kenchington appears to be on to reclaim the effort of making music as well as to democratise it. ‘It’s about swimming against the tide of everything being plugged in, and putting the physical back in music,’ she says. ‘I started off as a maker, but was never quite happy with just sticking something on a plinth.

‘I felt I’d gone off track, because I didn’t want it to be me just sitting there on a stage. I felt like I’d let my instruments down.’ As well as its daily showings, a series of concerts will feature contributions from the likes of Eagleowl and regular collaborator, the One Ensemble’s Daniel Padden.

‘It’s a great leveller,’ Kenchington says. ‘It’s not designed for virtuosos. It’s more about groups of people playing simple parts together. This is about getting music back to the people.’

Trinity Apse, Chalmers Close, 226 6558, 1 Aug–1 Sep, free.

Sarah Kenchington: Wind Pipes for Edinburgh

Sarah Kenchington builds her mechanical instruments from discarded materials. Bicycle spokes, typewriters, the inner tubes of tractor tyres are combined to create unique musical machines which emit a discordant array of moans, squeaks and chimes. Kenchington’s work offers a contemporary manifestation of a long history of…