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Ring Cycle by Hilary Powell

Friday 14 July at 6.30pm
High House Production Park

Studio rehearsal for Ring Cycle
Studio rehearsal for Ring Cycle

Artist, filmmaker and gleaner, Hilary Powell has spent the last year exploring the landscapes and narratives of Purfleet as part of Acme's Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award. She is now preparing to present Ring Cycle an audio visual symphony of greed and hope that transposes an epic cast of gods and mortals into this contemporary Thameside landscape.

Once described as ‘a countryside of mystery and elusive charm’ where ‘aloof and eerie marshes’ meet ‘giant industrial buildings, docks and refineries’ Powell’s film and live score reveals Purfleet as a place where beauty and horror combine in a twenty-first century version of the sublime. Inspired by Wagner’s Ring, a cycle of four epic music dramas completed in 1876, Powell brings forth an allegorical saga from the landscape of Purfleet where earth, air, fire and water combine in river reach, refineries, salt marsh and skies.

Upon this canvas Powell casts weeping river maidens on Thames concrete barges and exiled gods lumbering from the river mud. The familiar becomes strange as bird watchers and metal detectorists survey a landscape in which children run wild, goddesses knit and fires burn in shopping trolleys. With Canary Wharf an omnipresent reminder of global finance, Powell evokes Wagner’s own critique of unregulated industrial capitalism on the fringes of London just inside the M25.

From her studio in the midst of tanker docks and fenced-off storage depots, Powell has assembled a flotsam and jetsam sound studio of chalk, reeds and scrap metal. Drawing on the tradition of ‘foley’, the use of found materials to create sound effects for radio and TV, Powell takes this typically backstage art and presents it as a live performance. Collaborating with composer Kieron Maguire and involving local sound artists and singers from Thurrock - many of whom perform in the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus - this live soundtrack recreates the swoosh of wind turbines and the cries of birds, bringing the film to vivid life.

The launch screening of Ring Cycle, with live score, takes place on Friday 14th July at 6.30pm at High House Production Park. It is presented as a prelude to the Big Screen relay of the opera Turandot organised by Royal Opera House Thurrock and the Backstage Centre.

Hilary Powell is the third and final recipient of Acme's Stephen Cripps' Studio Award, a major creative development opportunity based at High House Production Park and established in memory of the pyrotechnic sculptor Stephen Cripps' (1952-1982). Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, High House Production Park Ltd and Stephen Cripp’s family it provides the selected artists with a rent-free studio and bursary. This award forms part of Acme’s Residency and Awards Programme which is supporting 63 artists in 2017. Ring Cycle is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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