Hannah Davies and Hannah Bruce launch Conflux audio walk at Castle Gateway

Conflux: “a lyrical audio collage bursting with voice and music “. Image: Katie Allen

COMMON Ground Theatre and Hannah Bruce and Company present Conflux, a lyrical audio collage bursting with voice and music in the heart of York this weekend.

It will be launched by private invitation only to previews at 4pm, 4.30pm and 5pm today and tomorrow at Piccadilly Bridge, on the Foss, next to Tesco Express, before being made available to the public as a download from Monday, December 2, for one year.

The Conflux audio walk is an hour of stories, imaginings and musings inspired by the Castle Gateway area. Accessed via an app on personal devices, the rich sound world guides listeners on a journey through York’s oldest site of stronghold, power and resistance.

“It’s part podcast, part poem, part accidental car park,” says Conflux host Hannah Davies, the York writer, poet, performer and Common Ground artistic director, who has worked with sound designer and composer Jonathan Eato and director Hannah Bruce. 

“Conflux takes listeners on a trip to find the often forgotten and mostly ignored, the stories that lurk on street corners and under the tarmac. Starting by the river Foss on Piccadilly, listeners follow the in-audio instructions to explore one of the city’s most fascinating and iconic sites in a captivating and irreverent blend of past and present, with contributions from 36 York residents.” 

Using art to reference the past while looking to the future of the iconic city-centre site, this free outdoor audio experience is the second of a trio of art commissions to be presented as part of City of York Council’s consultation on Castle Gateway.

Conflux is funded through Leeds City Region Business Rates Pool, which allows local authorities to retain growth in business rates for local investment. It is supported with public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, as well as supported by City of York Council and York Mediale, York’s digital media arts enterprise. The University of York Music Department has provided support for this project too. 

Writer Hannah says: As someone who lives and works in this city, it was great to spend time in a part of town that I usually only use as a short cut. Our city is full of history but that’s not everything that’s important about it.

“We wanted to capture a sense of now, brushing up against the past. The fragmented messy layers of it all. History is not neat. Nor is everyday life.

“We spent a lot of time on the site at different times of day and met and spoke to some really interesting people whose voices appear in Conflux. I know so much about the site now, I’ll never see it in the same light again. And I’ve definitely developed a thing for Clifford’s Tower, such an iconic part of York I used to take for granted. Now I do a little inner wave to it every time I pass.”

Those attending this weekend’s previews will need a smartphone, earbuds or headphones and details of the event code for the app. “Please dress for the weather and be prepared for an outdoor walk,” advises Hannah. 

Details regarding the app and the event code for specific time slots have been sent in advance to the audio walkers, who will start out from Piccadilly Bridge, having met at Spark York for information and support.

For full download instructions, visit the Common Ground website, cgtheatre.co.uk/portfolio/conflux, from Monday, December 2.

Charles Hutchinson