Requiem for Cross Bones (2018)
Requiem for Cross Bones (2018) is a site specific sound installation, choral work, and series of sculptures. It was commissioned by MERGE Bankside 2018, in partnership with Tate Modern, Better Bankside and Bankside Open Spaces Trust for Cross Bones graveyard. It is currently exhibiting at Cross Bones graveyard until 1 July 2018.
Cross Bones graveyard is a post-medieval burial ground situated in Bankside, Southwark. Bankside was once a notoriously lawless part of London, located outside of the city walls and its jurisdictions. It was a place where the poor resided, home to theatres, brothels and gambling. Established as early as the 17th century, Cross Bones is the final resting place for paupers that were buried at the expense of the parish of St Saviour. The identities of those buried within are largely unknown; there are no distinguishable plots or headstones, but rather a cemented surface surrounded by a community garden created by Bankside Open Spaces Trust in collaboration with the Friends of Crossbones. People were buried at Crossbones en-masse when graveyards were overcharged with the dead and cholera was rife. When, in 1992, an MOLA undertook an archaeological dig of Cross Bones, over 60% of the bodies found were young children and babies. Interestingly, two schools sat adjacent to Cross Bones, while it was an active burial ground.
Requiem for Cross Bones acts as an interpretation of lives once lived and laid to rest at Cross Bones, reflecting the history of Cross Bones, and the babies, children and adults buried there. Wooden crosses sense the movement of visitors, and trigger sound and music. The sounds of carriages, street traders, children playing and people talking can be heard, imagining how Cross Bones may have sounded when it was an active burial ground. Nursery rhymes, sung by local children from Southwark Cathedral Primary School, contain words and tunes that no longer exist. A short sample of one of the movements that features a soundscape can be heard below.
5 distinct musical movements create individual and group narratives. One visitor can trigger an individual narrative and the presence of many visitors can trigger the full work, which comprises multiple layers. The lyrics for each movement of the work can be downloaded here, with additional notes about each section of the work: [wpdm_package id=’1580′]
Plots are drawn onto the ground with numbers. At the head of each plot lies a wooden cross, crudely tacked together with pieces of wood, similar to the way in which the coffins found at the 1992 MOLA archaeological dig were constructed. A school blackboard / memory wall features a verse from a Broadside Ballad. Broadside Ballads were inexpensive sheets of paper containing long lyrics. They were popular with the working classes. This verse was published near London Bridge, c. 1700s, and likely written by a local man in honour of his deceased wife. Visitors are invited to leave messages for loved ones.
Crossbones garden, Union Street, SE1 1SD (near London Bridge / Borough Market). 8 June – 1st July 2018.
Composition, sound design, research & creation: Emily Peasgood
Lyrics: Emily Peasgood & Kate Lynn-Devere
Additional lyrics adapted from: From The Poor Sod That’s O’er You (unknown, trad.); Goodnight (1895) by Dollie Radford; Another (Here A Pretty Baby Lies) (17c) by Robert Herrick, Goblin Market (1859) by Christina Rossetti; and The Pauper’s Funeral (c. 17-18c) by George Crabbe.
Singers & voices:
Caspar Barton Hodges
Southwark Cathedral Primary School (Year 2)
Recording engineer: Ian Button
Audio editing: Emily Peasgood
Mixing: Daniel Taylor
Mastering: John Rigg
Samples: Emily Peasgood & BBC Sound Archive
Software Programming: Filipe Gomes
Technical Installation: Filipe Gomes & Gary Perkins
Crosses: Gary Perkins
Memory wall: Emily Peasgood & Illuminate Productions
Ground artwork: Emily Peasgood, Gary Perkins & Roy Eastland
With special thanks to:
Bankside Open Spaces Trust
Friends of Cross Bones Graveyard, and its volunteers
Requiem for Cross Bones is commissioned by Illuminate Productions for MERGE Bankside 2018, in partnership with Better Bankside, Bankside Open Spaces Trust and Tate Modern. Copyright Emily Peasgood 2018. All Rights Reserved.