Fascinating sound installation project eavesdrops on the goings on in and around Otley

The soothing sounds of local wildlife will guide listeners around a sonic nature trail in a Leeds market town.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 4:45 pm

Using recordings of everyday spaces as well as birds and animals living in and around Otley artist James Hamilton is developing Eavesdrop, a high tech sound installation that will take

walkers into the animal kingdom as they stroll round some of the town’s best-known landmarks.

The installation is one of a string of projects being backed by the Leeds Inspired grants scheme, which supports the city’s arts and cultural activities. Part of Leeds City Council, Leeds Inspired has been championing arts events and projects in Leeds since 2012.

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Artist James Hamilton is creating a 3d sound experience of Otley.

The sounds themselves will come from locations including Otley Courthouse, Market Square and local nature reserves and will be recorded over the course of this summer using custom

built field equipment supplied by interactive arts studio Invisible Flock.

The distinctive calls and noises of creatures including roe deer, swifts and reed bed warblers will then be combined with newly composed music which, when played back on headphones, will give the illusion of a virtual 3D space.

Specially fabricated wooden plaques featuring QR codes will be placed in five locations around Otley, each linking those who scan them to their own unique soundscape.

Artist James Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton, a professional composer and trumpet player originally from Belfast, said: “A love of nature is something which was instilled from an early age, being dragged on wet and wild

walks along the scenic Northern Irish coastline.

“Living at the foot of Otley Chevin has been a further source of inspiration and I have been looking for an opportunity to incorporate this unique area of natural landscape into my work.

“Eavesdrop offers a fantastic opportunity to do this whilst also encouraging others to become inspired by nature, draw their attention to the wildlife in and around Otley and leading them to consider our impact on their habitats.”

Other activities being supported this month include a day of playful, creative activities for families in Potternewton Park by Saphire Browne in partnership with Bookchikkaboom and

a series of 12 socially distanced gigs by local musicians at Brudenell Social Club created by Lubi Jovanovic.

Coun Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s executive member for culture and economy, said: “Nature has given many of us some much-needed respite over the past year and

projects like this help us further appreciate the important part which the natural world plays in the places we live.

“It’s great to see Leeds Inspired supporting so many innovative and exciting ideas across all Leeds and helping to unleash the power the arts have to unite and energise our


Eavesdrop will begin as part of Otley Walking Festival in June and run through until the Otley Wildlife Arts Festival in October.

The project has been funded by Leeds Inspired and supported by Invisible Flock, Otley Walking Festival, Otley 2030, Wildlife Friendly Otley, Otley Courthouse, Friends of Chevin

Forest Park, Friends of Gallows Hill, Otley Swift Watch and The Black Horse.

Usually based at Leeds Town Hall but currently working remotely, the Leeds Inspired team has funded more than 600 projects across the city and worked with a range of audiences,

artists and communities.

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