New app will bring Derry’s Walls to life like you’ve never 'heard' them before

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Almanac for a Walled City, a new sound artwork from artist Christopher Steenson that explores Derry’s connection with the weather, will launch at Nerve Centre in the city on Friday, 1 September.

Taking the form of an interactive soundwalk accessed through a geolocated app, Almanac for a Walled City draws inspiration from the importance of almanacs and weather forecasting in Irish history to speculate on the future of Derry, as listeners walk along the city’s 400-year-old walls.

Surveying today's existing landscape, users will reflect on Derry's current place in ecological history, while contemplating how the relationship between our society and our environment might change over the next 400 years, as it is shaped by our ever-changing weather.

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Delivered by Nerve Centre, the project is one of five arts projects nationwide supported by the ESB Brighter Future Arts Fund.

Almanac for a Walled City is a new geolocated soundwalk app that examines our relationship with the weather.Almanac for a Walled City is a new geolocated soundwalk app that examines our relationship with the weather.
Almanac for a Walled City is a new geolocated soundwalk app that examines our relationship with the weather.

The €250,000 fund, managed in partnership with Business to Arts, aims to support artists and arts organisations to deliver creative projects that will promote awareness of climate change and inspire positive action around sustainability and the energy transition.

Over the last year, Christopher Steenson spent extended periods of time in the city carrying out field recordings along the Walls, and leading a programme of engagement workshops with young people and community participants. He also spent time meeting and carrying out recordings at Coolkeeragh power station and meeting ESB employees.

Workshops helped inform the creative direction of the app experience with local residents recalling memories of the weather and raising more difficult questions about how the weather has changed in the city and our ongoing responsibility to care for the environment.

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Christopher then collated these responses and recordings to help create a virtual guide from the fictional Department of Dreamtime who will support listeners through the soundwalk experience.

Artist Christopher Steenson.Artist Christopher Steenson.
Artist Christopher Steenson.

Ahead of the launch of the app, Christopher Steenson said: “With Almanac for a Walled City, I’ve been exploring the ways in which the climate crisis has been created, with particular reference to Derry and its industrial past. But this artwork is also about looking forward. By thinking about our historical relationship with the weather, we can imagine new and optimistic futures. I’m hoping that this artwork can be part of that dialogue.”

The free to download app, which will be available on both iOS and Android from Friday 1 September, will guide the public around the Walls and through a creative exploration of the city’s past and future association with the weather. Starting on the Walls outside Nerve Centre, users will navigate an anti-clockwise direction and unlock different recordings as they complete a full circle of the iconic tourist attraction.

Bevin Cody, Corporate Reputation Manager, ESB, said: “As a long-standing supporter of the arts in Ireland, ESB recognises the role that artists and arts organisations can play in driving engagement around important social and environmental issues.

“By exploring Ireland’s unique relationship with the weather through the eyes of different generations, Almanac for a Walled City challenges us to think about the impact of climate change on our lives and consider potential solutions.

Experience Derry's walls like never before.Experience Derry's walls like never before.
Experience Derry's walls like never before.

" I would like to congratulate Christopher Steenson and Nerve Centre for bringing this project to life so creatively in such a historic location.”

Niall Kerr, Head of Heritage and Community Relations at Nerve Centre, said: “Nerve Centre has been delighted to work with and support Christopher in developing Almanac for a Walled City.

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"It was important that the project engaged the city’s residents and took on board their thoughts and opinions around a subject that communities feel increasingly passionate about.

The app is a creative journey developed by Christopher that will bring a fresh perspective to how visitors can enjoy the city’s iconic Walls and we’re excited to see how people respond and engage with the experience.”

Louise O’Reilly, CEO of Business to Arts, said: “At Business to Arts we are proud of our mission to serve as a catalyst for creative collaboration through purposeful arts partnerships and Almanac for a Walled City is a perfect example of this mission coming to life.

The app fosters a unique sense of connection to our environmental past and present, whilst prompting us to reflect on the key role we ourselves can play in ensuring a brighter future for generations to come. We congratulate Christopher Steenson and Nerve Centre as part of the ESB Brighter Arts Fund for a project that inspires positive action around climate change in such a creative way.”

For more information on the project visit: www.nervecentre.org

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