At the start of 2023, the Dialect and Heritage Project were looking for artists to create something exciting showcasing the rich variety of materials collected and digitised by the Project.

The included in-depth interviews, memories and images, as well as the opportunity to share material from the original Survey of English Dialects (SED).

Artist, Emily Tracy, was awarded the commission to creatively interpret and celebrate these wonderful resources. Emily’s proposal was to create audiograms: a combination of image and sound (two things we have a lot of!) to explore a theme that satisfies multiple senses and encourages you to listen and look intently.

A few months ago, Emily visited Special Collections at the University of Leeds and saw a range of material from the SED, including photocards, drawings used by fieldworkers, and receipts of their travels (including the consumption of a lot of tea and cake).

From then on, Emily explored the vast digitised collection through the Special Collections website and became inspired by the theme of weather.

The final artwork is a six-piece series of audiograms each with a different theme on ‘weather‘.

The names of each individual artwork – ‘Hoar-frost‘, ‘Rivulet‘, ‘Blashy‘, ‘East Wind‘, ‘I Can Tell Nicely‘ and ‘29.5 Days‘ – are prompted by recorded dialect words and the voices of contributors to the original SED.

Emily says

“I wanted to reflect both the methods with which the Survey of English Dialects was generated, as well as the physical nature of its storage within the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture. Of course, now the collection is being digitised, but it also remains physically in folders, archive and index boxes and cards, as well as including letters, vinyl records, photograph cards and response books. It is organised into dates, areas and subjects, far too many for me to even scratch the surface of!

With the vast array of subjects, words and themes I decided to focus on weather. We are known as a nation of weather watchers and this subject links us directly to previous generations. We are, perhaps, more sheltered from the weather within our present-day homes and offices, but we now have a new perspective, as we are increasingly aware of climate change, and so perhaps more sensitive to changes in the weather.

I worked with sound producer, Sarah Cuddon to create audio from sounds of the landscape and archive interviews and with Azqueta Arts to animate my collages.”

@emilytracyart @sarahcuddon @azquesta_arts

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