Coolicon lampshade illustration by David J. Huggins ©, 2019-2022

I am excited to realise an idea I have been harbouring for a while now. You might already know I am fan of using found sounds – everyday sounds and objects that I think have musical potential. I sample or record them then creatively manipulate them to transform them into musical instruments eg. a staircase becomes a drum kit or a jangling over shelves become sizzling cymbals.

I was enchanted to learn that for late great electronic music pioneer, Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001), the Coolicon steel enamelled lampshade was one of her favourite instruments.  After hearing the lovely gong quality of a chipped old medium sized lampshade I bought off ebay, I wondered what a bunch of them would sound like.

Coolicon have kindly given me 7 lampshades – some 40 cm wide! – that are slightly defective due to the intricate enamelling process. So I have 8 in total with 3 different sizes. They will be mounted in a gazebo frame, with gentle amplification by contact microphones (thanks to artist/engineer Mandy Wigby for strongly recommending mic-ing them up). Visitors can activate and explore the sonorities of these UK made steel lampshades with soft beaters and an attentive ear.

The Coolicon Sound Bath installation will have its first outing at Deliaphonic Festival in Coventry (3-6 March 2022). Deliaphonic presents events to honour the electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) in her hometown in the Midlands.

This installation is intended to honour Delia’s imagination, resourcefulness and sensitive way of composing electronic music with tape. It is also an expression of my joyful curiosity with sound and music. The Coolicon Sound Bath invites a deeper listening to uncover the magic in the mundane, the surprising musical potential in everyday objects.

Commissioned by Deliaphonic 2022

Supported by Coolicon Lighting & Tube UK (sound cables);

Design and production support by Steven Lopacki

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