Rachel Sedman is a multi-disciplinary artist working across the mediums of photographic processes, sound recording and performance. She is interested in how we listen, where our perceptions of sound arise and how this influences our present experience. Rachel graduated from MA Creative Practice at Leeds Arts University in 2018 and was the 2019 resident at Leeds Arts University and East Street Arts Patrick Studios Residency. Her National Trust commission Sounds of Winter was exhibited at Beningbrough Hall, York in 2019.
Could you tell us a little about your practice?
I work in a multi-disciplinary way yet the core and basis of my practice is the use of sound. I began researching sound and perception during my MA in Creative Practice and subsequently have produced sound installations, soundtracks to dance performance and sound alongside visual imagery. My core thinking explores how we listen, what we hear and how our perceptions influence our present experience. I explore how sound can be visualised and felt in an embodied sense. I’ve been drawn to the use of sound for many years due to its power to move us in ways beyond the purely visual. It has a fluidity and sculptural quality which is experiential and evocative.
Image: Images from the Traces performance/collaboration with dance artists Maria Popova and Stephanie Donohoe, July 2018
I use a combination of analogue and digital techniques in photography and printmaking alongside sound. The exploration of the visualisation of sound is manifested through these two mediums primarily. For the last two years I’ve worked to a specific manifesto of practice. I wrote the manifesto for myself for a way to create a set of boundaries within which to work. It gave me a set of parameters which have allowed me greater freedom to express succinctly the ideas within a specific project.
How did the course help you in supporting your professional practice?
I loved the time spent at Leeds Arts University, it was great being in an academic environment again after so many years of industry experience. The Creative Practice MA has a diverse range of practitioners working across film, writing, animation, drawing and painting, this helped me to think outside of my visual arts perspective with which I entered the course. It also massively helped in finding the theoretical context to the work I began to make. It has been a two year stretch where I’ve really found myself pushed and challenged to collaborate in ways which felt uncomfortable, but inevitably resulted in illuminating and rewarding work. It has helped shift my practice outwards. The practitioners on the course and in the University encourage you to apply for open calls and projects as well as attending conferences and networks, this really helps situate your practice in a professional context.
Image: Choreography of Light, photogram series 2018
Do you have any tips or advice for current students or recent graduates wanting to work in your field?
One of my biggest lessons to myself during the MA was when I applied for an open call for a National Trust project which was predominantly sculpture based. I had just worked on a piece of sound for a performative exhibition and I felt this would also would fit the brief for the National Trust. I applied, really expecting a rejection, yet was accepted. The sound installation ran and had great feedback. It was well received by both project staff at the National Trust and by visitors. As a result of that work the National Trust have also commissioned me for a body of six sound installations at Beningbrough Hall. So my most relevant tip would be to apply, apply, apply to everything and anything if you think your work would be a congruent resonance with the brief. Also I would say attend as many conferences and symposiums as possible. They are a brilliant platform to meet like minded practitioners and to engage in interesting conversations.
Finally, are there any future ambitions or projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
The project I mentioned above for The National Trust at Beningbrough Hall has recently been completed and is now exhibiting until March 2019. I am in the process of applying for new studio space so my working space may shift early 2019. Four of us from the MA have formed a working group called Degrees North and, since our group exhibition in London this October, we are working on our next project for 2019. I have two projects simmering away; one is a podcast series of interviews with people working in the creative industries centring around their creative progress, the other project is a collaboration which will culminate in an exhibition which centres around light and sound. There’ll be more details to follow! Alongside this I’ve been teaching workshops and plan to develop these into 2019-2020. So plenty to be working on so far!