Olivia Webb: Voices Project
Sound installation made in response to devastating earthquakes in New Zealand in 2011
This article is from 2016.
Edinburgh Art Festival has a reputation for breathing new life into hidden parts of the city. Olivia Webb's vocal installation is one such project, housed in Trinity Apse off The Royal Mile.
In 2014 Webb created her Voices Project, a series of sound installations featuring choral music from local community groups, which were positioned in locations around Christchurch in New Zealand that had been ruined by the 2011 earthquakes. For the EAF she has collapsed these Christchurch recordings into one, multi-channel sound work. It is worth visiting just to see the space, with its high arched windows flooding a green filtered light into the gothic interior. Webb's vocal recordings intersperse atmospheric choral music with informal chatter and laughter, recreating the sense of community that church choirs can create, even in the midst of a crisis.
Her video work in one corner includes interviews with the people from Christchurch involved in the project, whose eyes are lit up with positive energy. The enthusiasm that Webb has created is admirable, but one can't help wondering if a more haunting quality to the whole project would have made it more fitting in this particular space. Webb will also be running a series of choral workshops in Edinburgh that should respond more intuitively to the Apse.
Trinity Apse, until 28 Aug, free. Choral workshops 2, 9, 16 Aug, 7pm; 6, 13 Aug, 3pm; free but booking required.