The event takes the form of a self led, walk around trail over a distance of approx 2–3km. Sites ideally encompass a diverse range of landscapes and habitats including wetland, mixed woodland, marsh and open grassland. The audience walk mainly over established paths which at times can be rough and uneven ground. The walk takes approximately 1–1.5 hrs hours to complete.
Installations are spread evenly across the site, each work responding whenever possible to the diverse habitats and environments present on the site. Route lighting is provided by LED lights strung between posts, trees and fence lines.
The event can be attended by up to 1000 people each night. If there are remote locations, narrow lanes and restricted car parking audiences can be bussed in from the nearby towns This not only cuts down travel miles, car parking issues and travel restrictions for those without transport but also added a sense of shared purpose and conviviality.
On arrival the audience are met and briefed by a steward regarding safety procedures as well the nature and challenges of the site.
The audience are guided by team of up to 15 volunteer stewards each night. Each wearing a small elctro-luminescant lapwing for identification.
Every effort is made to create a low energy high impact spectacle throught the use of creative low power Led lighting. All flood lights were either 20 or 30w COB Led chips.The entire show used less than 8000 w of power. The artists have custom wired over 3km ofwaterproof Led festoon route lighting with spacings of 2–3m between each bulb.The show has been craeted to have a long legacy within the context of a touring show.
Power has ben drawn previously from two mains outlets on the site with regulated and protected trip switches suitable for outdoor use. Mains cable are distributed via approximatley 5km of cable over the site. This is supplimented by over 40 batteries to act as saftey emergency lighting or for use where cable is not appropriate. This can be substituted by two small silent generators.
For the Birds has brought together a dynamic group of artists and technicians as part of the ongoing development of performance and events centred from their base within the Dyfi valley in West Wales. Part of the ethos of the group is to harness and nurture the skills of the community of local artistic practitioners engendering the group strong sense of local identity and team spirit.
The show aims to continue to be staged at different venues across the UK and abroad, the artists are constantly refining their work, exploring new ideas, collaborating with local artists and responding to different conservation spaces, with the aim of contextualising the work in response to the unique nature of sites, ecosystems and cultural relationships.
For the Birds emerged from two years of new experimentations in concepts, techniques and practice by the artists in collaboration with high profile arts and non-arts organisations in the last two years, in Wales and internationally. This work includes:
Sounding the River — A journey of sound, light and performance along the banks of the River Rea. Curated and produced by Easterby alongside Anderson, Hinde and Tew in collaboration with MAC Birmingham to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Powerplant The highlight of Liverpool City of culture this show that has won critical acclaim in major festivals around the world. Five artists including Easterby, Pedersen and Anderson create over thirty site-specific installations, which transform public parks and botanical gardens into inspiring nocturnal environments.
Leverhulme Fellowship Landscape and Protection. A year long R&D project by Easterby in collaboration with the Centre for Alternative Technology, exploring methodology to communicate concepts of ecology, biodiversity and sustainability. Funded by The Leverhulme Trust.
Estuary lab A week long performance research and development lab led by Easterby in the tidal zone of the river Dyfi working with a range of local and international artists supported by National Theatre Wales. This led to the identification of the Ynys-hir site on the Dyfi estuary.
The project is led by Jony Easterby and his team, including planning, fundraising, finance, production, management and execution of the artistic production.
For the Birds has so far succeeded in reaching a wide audience beyond those who regularly attend arts events and has introduced new audiences to nature reserve spaces. Although the event is stimulating and thought provoking, its immediacy and accessibility creates an atmosphere, which is exciting, enchanting and memorable. For the Birds is suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds. It appeals both to families looking for a stimulating and magical evening experience, to young people, arts audiences and to existing bird enthusiasts.
The artists’ aim has been to create a series of works which draw from and respond to the all aspects of avian culture and natural history in different ways, working together to create a magical auditory and visual night time journey. Audiences wander through the landscape at their own pace, experiencing the installations and staying for between one and two hours depending on the scale of the site.
Presenting For the Birds
For the Birds is ideally presented in association with an arts presenter or festival and a host venue. A good working relationship with the venue is very important. The For the Birds team work closely with landscape and ecology, alongside land managers to install artworks in some highly sensitive locations.
For the Birds can be presented outdoors for approximately 1000–1200 people per night but this is obviously highly dependent on the site. The event usually runs for around two and a half hours. Audiences are admitted in ten-minute time intervals and are allowed to wander at their own pace within the installations. Usually this route takes at least one hour and hence last admission is approximately an hour before the close of the event.
The event is usually ticketed.
Advance ticket discounts (early birds!) work well in guaranteeing audiences will turn up on evenings where weather is unfavorable. Discounting the first show of the run is also a very effective strategy as the audiences build dramatically by word of mouth over the run.
Factors such as weather, sunset times and growing seasons should be taken into account when choosing when to program For the Birds.
Finding a possible location
For the Birds is suitable for public spaces which provide a practically and aesthetically appropriate context for the work. Ideally this would be a bird or nature reserve or a conservation space that would form a backdrop and contextualise to the work. Parks and botanic gardens would also be considered if suitable
A sense of wildness and a unique experience is preferred.
A number of intimate spaces, through and between which the sense of an audience journey can be created would be ideal. This also allows the work to exist in a range of aesthetically different habitats.
A manageable site with some walled or fenced areas can make the difference in terms of whether the event is viable in terms of stewarding, overnight security for installations and rigging as well as to the presenters options for ticketing the event.
Minimising the amount of visible production equipment and fencing is key to the feel of the event.
Low ambient light and sound levels are vital for the event and light and sound spill can easily rule a site out. Close proximity of major roads can also be problematic.
Access to dry space for rigging and feeding artist and crew teams is very important although temporary workspaces can suffice
The quality of relationship with the reserve or garden staff is very important and communication co-operation over use of equipment and spaces needs to be easily manageable.
Obviously there are marketing considerations for promoters in terms of ease of access of the site by the public, previous events history etc.
A successful strategy in the use of a relatively remote inaccessible site in rural Wales was the use of coaches to ‘ship’ the audience in. Shuttle buses have also been used to extend Although an extra FOH cost this added to the sense of occasion and unique nature of the event.
The need to find a suitable site to make the production viable means that potential presenters should send images, maps, web links and video of potential sites at the first opportunity. This will give the team an idea of whether a site is viable and save time and expense on later site visits. When a potentially suitable site or sites are identified, at least one site visit will need to be organised. Preferably the team for this will include the three artists and production manager but outside the UK this can be reduced to four people.
Safety and licensing
The For the Birds team will work together with presenting partners and local licensing authorities to produce a comprehensive Event Management Plan and Risk Assessment for the event. Some central aspects of the event such as low light levels and unusual equipment mean that good communications need to be established early on in the planning process with licensing authorities, however management of these specialist issues is well developed in the For the Birds team. The team is also experienced at placing work in sensitive natural, archaeological and historic sites.
The For the Birds Production Manager will take on an overview of the stewarding and FOH management of the site to ensure a safe and well-managed event.
As standard Public Liability Insurance of £5 million cover will be in place to cover the artists’ work.
Festivals and promoters will be responsible for insuring all work and equipment when on site.There are no significant environmental health concerns with the piece and the overall sound levels are very low.
Environmental impact is kept to a minimum with many of the pieces using recycled materials, low power equipment and a minimum of disposable elements.
For the Birds draws on work created by various sound and performance artists over a 15-year period. Since the “7/8ths of a Second” event in Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham in the late 90s, this group of artists has been innovating and inventing new work for outdoor locations since. This process has contributed to the high production standards and collaborative working practices that underpin the quality and impact of For the Birds.
Jony Easterby — Lead artist and producer
Jony Easterby’s practice focuses on the boundaries between raw elemental materials and communication across media working in sound technology, composition, installation, landscape design and ecology.
He is motivated by the belief that an ecologically diverse landscape is essential for people, for planet and for sustainability, recent work has explored the methods and changing perceptions of land use and its implications, and how to communicate these issues within the public realm through the contrasting mediums of the arts, science and technology.
Permanent sound and sculpture installations can be found under the White Cliffs of Dover, Cheltenham, Maesteg South Wales, Grizedale Forest, The Wolds East Yorkshire, Scotland and Derbyshire.
He has collaborated with many artists over the years including Geir Jenssen/Biosphere, Red Earth, NVA, Fevered Sleep and the National Theatre of Wales.
He is a core participating artist in the acclaimed touring shows ‘Powerplant’ and ‘Audible Forces’.
He recently produced and directed the epic show ‘Sounding the River’ exploring and reinterpreting landscape and ecology of a 1.5km river corridor in Birmingham. He devised and conceived For the Birds in 2014.;
He has worked alongside communities and professionals worldwide, showing work across Europe, Australia, Scandanavia, China, Indonesia and New Zealand.
Kathy Hinde – Core artist
Kathy Hinde’s interdisciplinary approach combines different art forms frequently through collaborations with other practitioners, partnerships with scientists, and input from the audience. She has made work for concert halls, theatres, and galleries alongside site-specific work for outdoor locations and unusual indoor spaces. She has shown work across Europe, Scandinavia, China, Pakistan, USA, Colombia and Brazil.
Kathy’s music and visual art grows from a partnership between nature and technology. Often using adapted, or self-made instruments, she works with open scores, graphic scores and chance procedures to create a framework within which the work evolves. Her video work frequently moves away from the screen, including site-specific public projections. She has created a number of works combining kinetic sculpture with musical automata, online participatory sound-mapping pieces and site-specific installations.
Previous and current collaborators are many and include: Joanna MacGregor, Maja Ratkje, Gabriel Prokofiev, Joby Burgess and composer Will Gregory of the duo Goldfrapp by creating video projections for Gregory’s new Opera “Piccard in Space” directed by Jude Kelly at the South Bank Centre, London.
Mark Anderson – Core artist
Mark Anderson’s work covers a broad spectrum, combining sound, light, kinetics, fire, pyrotechnic elements and frequently involving specially designed, musical apparatus, to create mesmerising installations and performances for site-specific outdoor events. Recent projects include international tourng as lead artists in Powerplant. ‘Furious Follies’ a Dadist interpretation of the futility of war, as part of the WWI centenary. The Photophonic Experiment, a CMN promoted tour with Project Dark and Pram; Blast, an aural explosion of sound, fire, steam and pyrotechnics in celebration of Birmingham’s steam-driven past; and the Neptune Project at Dyrham Park near Bristol which re-created 17th century formal Dutch gardens, in possibly the largest fire drawing seen in this country. Mark frequently collaborates with other artists and groups, and was a founder member of the long running but now disbanded collective Blissbody. He has recently established DarkSpark with his partner, Helen Ingham. DarkSpark live and work in rural mid Wales, kindling the curiosity of locals with strange sounds, flashes of light, and the occasional burst of fire and smoke.
Ulf Mark Pedersen – Core artist and lighting designer
Often architectural in scale, Ulf’s work transforms the act of looking into a physical experience. Visitors to venues that he works with find themselves immersed in a sensational play of light and colour, as almost through a kind of light-based alchemy the space metamorphoses into something unique and magical. In addition to working closely with the raw materials of the site, Ulf use light and colour as his essential tools, often combining these natural or artificial elements with the new architectural forms he has designed. His practice exploits both hi and lo-fi technologies and aims to highlight the poetic potential of place.
Esther Tew – Lighting design and installation
Esther Tew works alongside many different arts practitioners from sound and lighting artists to architects and artisans, performers, musicians and storytellers, facilitators and researchers. In all of these relationships she brings her own unique aesthetic into play. Using a variety of skills to create unique spaces and environments she empowers audiences by letting them interact with and change the work created.
She works with variety of media ranging from micro-electronics to performance, pervasive games and installation.
The threads that tie her practices together are people, participation and play.
She has worked as sculptor and games designer at Glastonbury festival, National Theatre of Wales Assembly, Recycled Venues, Fire in the Mountain and has been working alongside Jony Easterby for the past two years as lighting designer, technical facilitator and installer.
Other associate artists are sometimes brought in on a project by project basis.
FOR THE BIRDS: General production requirements to be provided by presenting partners
Get in – approx 12 days before 1st show.
Get out: Approx 3 days from last performance.
Initial determination of sites through production research trip maybe needed, depending on perceived suitability.
Site visit of at least 2–3 days with up to four people prior to confirmation of site to design route and determine installation positions and infrastructure. The team will need to visit the site each night will need to be in hours of darkness with park lighting extinguished.
Access to site
Access to the site as necessary from get-in to get-out including late access. Some (typically the site visit and the four nights before opening) of this access will need to be during the hours of darkness with site and adjacent lighting extinguished.
- Any necessary permissions for the presentation of the show.
Personnel (see separate crew call for timings)
- A Company/Event Manager to deal with logistics and facilitate liaison with reserve/garden
- A dedicated technical site manager with authority to order equipment and manage technical staff
- An experienced Front of House Manager with outdoor event experience for liaison through the event period.
- All Box office and FOH staff
- 24 hour security from get-in to get-out in gardens and site compound
- All event stewarding (low key not dressed in high vis jackets)
- 2 x dedicated consistent and experienced outdoor event technicians from get-in to get out (outside those responsible for power and barrier installation). At least one of these should have a car, driving license and good local knowledge.
- 2 x local lighting techs for 3 days at start of get-in
- 2 x reliable, enthusiastic artist helpers during get in and get-out (should be consistent)
- Professional local cellist and installation operators for show nights and tech rehearsal. Should be artistically sensitive and chosen in consultation with company
Accommodation and catering
- Accommodation in single rooms or preferably self catering apartments for 11 people (7 single occupancy 2 double) during production period, shows and site visits. For longer runs this team may be reduced later in the run by negotiation.
- Good quality varied hot food with vegetarian and vegan options (lunch, dinner, breakfast) for artists and crew (including local team) from get-in to get-out. During get-in and out lunch and dinner need to be provided on site and flexible hours. During show period lunches can be in the form of a buy-out whilst dinner needs to be provided on site.
- Local and international travel and visa costs for site visits and production period (11 people)
- Freight and any associated customs and carnet costs for 1 x 20 shipping container or 24 cubic metres/3000kg volumetric weight in 60–70 x road cases for international gigs.
Marketing, PR and Box Office
Marketing, PR and Box Office
- Management of any Box Office, marketing and PR
- Agreed crediting of all artists, production team and supporters
- Approval on print and press produced by the presenting partners
- Consultation on pricing, ticketing and front of house management policies
- Facility for sale of event merchandising at Box Office
- Production of single sheet handout for audiences
Front of House
Managing the audience and Front of House for For the Birds can be complex and demanding. The event is typically ticketed in ten minute time slots and managing the collection of tickets and queuing, briefing and admission systems for audiences requires an experienced staff team on the box office and FOH to be provided by the festival.
Technical and site
- Provision and management of all site infrastructure – power, barriering, power, distribution, site lighting etc.
- Provision of lighting equipment as per technical spec
- Provision of some additional materials as dictated by site
- Management of all licensing and necessary permissions
- Secure, warm, dry dressing room/catering area through the show and get in/out period with access to kettle, drinking water, toast maker and microwave.
- Dry, secure compound, workshop and storage space to include. 2 lockable shipping containers, one portacom cabin, 6m x 6m marquee. Includes floodlights, work benches, working lights.
- Full site power distribution and cabling as per plan to be provided post site visit.
- Control over site lighting in the area of the installation, which should be low level.
- Parking for production vehicles
- Provision for recycling essential alongside the collection of waste
- Production office with access to printing, internet and copying facilities.
For The Birds
Provisional technical hires list to be provided by presenting partner at own cost*
All equipment to be suitable for outdoor use
All hire equipment and consumables to be supplied on site on Day 1 of get in
FOR THE BIRDS TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS
Festival to provide the following at own cost:
*IMPORTANT: For The Birds is a site-specific production and each site contains many unknowns. Additional technical and production requirements may emerge as the rigging process is underway.
1) Power distribution to a number of power points around the site as per our Power Plan (created after site visit).
2) Additional power distribution to a number of power points around the site as per our Lighting Plan (created after site visit).
3) Additional cabling and trunking and convertors to 16A C-Form – approx 10 x 50m, 20 x 20m, 60 x 10m, 50 x 5m, 200 x Y-splitters.
Power should be installed on Day 1 of get-in to get out. See plan and spec overleaf
All For The Birds equipment is on 16A C Form plugs. We require all local power to be converted to this standard.
Audio and AV equipment
Standard audio and AV equipment is toured by For The Birds, however some site-dependent exceptions may arise.
Lighting (approx – dependent on site)
All other lighting as required for emergency/working light/lighting of public areas to be agreed in discussion with Technical Manager .
For the Birds will provide the majority of lighting needs using low power Led floods and spots.
Additional lighting may need to be bought in if working on a an exceptionally large site.
All lighting will be low power Led allowing for the minimum use of generation equipment and allowance of voltage drops on power distribution 240v > 210v.
RCCD of 100–300 mA advised over long runs.
2x Gator site vehicle(depending on site size) insured for crew use and 4 x small 4 wheel trolleys
2x 5 step A-frame ladders (1.5m), 2x 7 step (2m), 11 step Zarges 3–4m.
FtB will provide addition tripod orchard ladders.
Other access equipment if necessary
Site safety and communications
All required public barriering
An appropriate number of fire extinguishers and blankets
20 x Radios and earpieces and holsters from get-in until get-out foir FtB and local crew (not including stewards radios for run).
Radio range and black spots to be checked prior to event and repeater stations to be installed where needed. Full edge to edge coverage is essential.
First aid box and eyebath kit.
Old upright piano with metal framed piano harp. Extracted intact from piano under instruction from the artist.
Tarpaulin (quantity tbc)
30 x 7Ah Rechargeable Lead Acid Batteries for emergency route lighting (for internationally air/sea shipped events).
Additional items as dictated by site – to be confirmed in response to site visit.
Sundries and Consumables — Specified after site visit.
Bamboo – as dictated by site visit
100–200 galv foot push electric fence posts.
1000m 3mm galv wire rope.
100m 15mm synthetic hemp barrier rope.
80 x Hard Standing Ground Awning / Tent rock Pegs. 20 inch long
Black (non-shiny) theatre Material x 3 rolls (1approx 1.5 x 20m each)
Hessian (rough brown coarse sack cloth) x 3 rolls (approx 1.5 x 20m each)
Black gaffa tape x 15 rolls
Black Electrical Tape x 20 rolls
Cable-ties (various sizes, large) x 3000
Heavy duty bin bags x 50.
Timber various for projector boxes and stands.
Storage and workshop space
On-site containers/cabins for working space/storage unless site facilities available. Details to be discussed on site visit but basic level includes equivalent of 2 x 20 container (one of these may be freighted with the company) for storage and workshop space, plus porta-cabin /site office (with chairs and tables) and 6 m x 8 m marquee.
Presenting partner to provide all signage, front of house and other public safety, access and public welfare equipment and personnel as required.
NB Separate Power Distribution and lighting plans to be supplied post site-visit.
Selected Audience Feedback
I am so grateful, delighted, and still slightly dazed. For The Birds was one of the best art exhibitions I have ever seen. In fact, I cannot think of another art experience which has bettered it. I’m just so utterly enchanted, and the enchantment has stayed with me. I can’t say how beautiful it was, how wondrous, how unexpected. Is it going to be put on elsewhere? I was swept away.
Jay Griffiths. Author .
… was unbelievably, mind-blowingly brilliant. An unforgettably beautiful and resonant experience, which I will be reliving for a long time. If only it were on for months.
George Monbiot. Guardian journalist and author of ‘Feral’
I have to admit that it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in a long time and I only wish the national park had the resources to entice you up here too.
The amount of work to set that up must have been staggering. It would be difficult to single out any one installation, and although the laser show and the fireflies were mesmerizing, the very last one, the recital of T Gwynn Jones’ Ynys Afallon hir a thoddeidiau (that particular form of cynghanedd poetry with that lovely lilt) was a fantastic end. I think the gist of the poetry might have been lost on a few of the audience, but the contrast between the theme of land of eternal youth and the abruptness of the birds’ death on impact with glass was a piece of inspiration.
Rhys Wynn Snowdonia National Park Ranger.
I found the whole experience quite magical. Without the installations seeing Ynyshir at night lit up was beautiful. With the installations it was different experience entirely. My favourite had to be the laser through the reeds which was a journey in itself from wonder, to wondering how to the lightbulb moment!
Beguiling, enchanting, magical, mystical, weird & wonderful
Each section complemented those either side of it
Everything, the entire evening was wonderful, a world encapsulated within a tiny part of Wales
The combination of the nature reserve at night, the ambient lighting and the clever build up of individual pieces of work that combined light and sound
walking in a warm and windy dry autumn night sometimes with friends sometimes alone coming upon clever and inspiring pieces of art.
Walking in the dark with friends and family.
The lights enhancing trees and grasses on a large scale approach, creating a magical atmosphere. The fun, engaging sculptures/ installations, sympathetic to the landscape.
I’d say my enjoyment/appreciation could be roughly split into 3rds. 1 third being at the reserve at night, 1 third the lit route throughout the reserve and 1 third the art works
The psychedelic rising tide green laser lights in the elephant grass, next to the boardwalk.
Walking with so many people at night in almost total silence!
The ambition, the ambiance, the intrigue
That we were able to be in the outdoors, reflect on aspects of the outdoors
while immersed in the experience of contemplation as we observed, engaged with and moved through each instillation.
The fun and simplicity with which the artists show their love and understanding of nature.
The first half of the walk, where the work was more spread out and directly responding to the landscape around it. Also visiting a place that is not usually accessible at night, being allowed to wander in a beautiful place in the darkness and lose myself, as well as share with others.
The cleverness of some of the exhibits, that they were all surprises, that is was in the night time in the nature reserve.
The setting and production.
Magical, Fascinating, Beautiful.
Innovative, beautiful, novel, uplifting.
Awe inspiring, exiting, atmospheric, fun.
The best bits for me was the board walk with the ‘sward scan’ across the grasses, the ‘fireflies’ the ‘cicada telegraph’ and the ‘cuckoo ensemble’. Other highlights were the ‘crows’ and the ‘lapwing display’.
It was a real privilege walking the reserve at night and hearing the real birdlife blending in with the installations, the above were my highlights if that’s what you mean by recommending
I would recommend the entire experience. However, there was only just time allowed to get round without lingering too long at any one exhibit. Maybe an additional half hour would have sufficed.