Sounds of Regent’s Canal spliced into magical medley in new sound installation

and her sound recording project

and her sound recording project - Credit: Archant

Press the button to call the new lift at Cecil Sharp House this week and you might be intrigued by a medley of sounds that evoke the nearby Regent’s Canal.

Bridge-Links is in fact an installation created by local sound artist Esther Ainsworth from 50 days worth of field recordings made along the canal between King’s Cross and Primrose Hill.

She spliced together environmental sounds of wildlife, bicycle bells and chatter with more than 60 sound clips sent in by local residents and towpath users, to create her sound composition.

The site specific work, made for last November’s Camden New Wave Festival was originally installed beneath the canal bridges at Regent’s Park Road and Gloucester Avenue.

Now it can be heard in the lift shaft at Cecil Sharp House in Regent’s Park Road until April 7.

“I have been working with interactive sound art projects for 10 years and I have lived in Primrose Hill for 12 years but this was the first time I had worked with my local area,” says Ainsworth. “I work with the environmental sound of communities and landscapes and try to interpret that, to create something lovely in the way that people do with painting a landscape.

“I really like this area and the village atmosphere, the way people are prepared to involve themselves in things happening in their local environment, and was really interested in bringing what I do to the area in which I live to create a piece of all the sounds from Primrose Hill.”

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Ainsworth recorded sounds “that shape and sculpt the soundscape along the canal” – birds, chatter, trains, traffic, even faint sounds from the zoo. “I also asked people in the community around Primrose Hill to send me the sounds of their own environment via mobile phone or email – short samples of anything and everything including one in a shop on Regent’s Park Road.”

Trained in fine art, Ainsworth works with the same software used in the music industry. But instead of composing musical notes, she arranges her sounds – putting them on loops, or using a keyboard to manipulate the pitch or tone “to make it more musical, more humane, easier on the ear”.


Ainsworth loved the original site specific installation and says: “Canals are a place where people take a bit of time out, the pace of city life slows down and worries about Tube delays fade in this lovely meditative place.

“I loved the idea of the sounds from the natural environment being played back into that space to create a sense of magic and mystery as people walked along the towpath.”

Now it is in the lift at Cecil Sharp House, she says: “It’s a place that people pass through but I hope people stop and take a few moments to listen while they’re waiting for the lift.”