For the last three weeks, Canadian singer and sound artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle has been spending time at the Horniman as an artist in residence. Her work culminates tonight in a performance at the Roxy Bar and Screen at 128–132 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LB.
Cheryl has visited the Horniman several times over the last few weeks, focusing on gardens and musical instrument collection. As an artist with indigenous North American (Cree/Metis) and European ancestry, she’s been keen to identify instruments crafted by Native peoples in North America.
On one visit to the museum, she sang to drums and rattles in the Music Gallery and also examined items in the special studies collection, sharing her knowledge of musical and ceremonial practices with the Keeper of Instruments, Margaret Birley.
Since the early 1980s, Cheryl has created, performed and presented work in a variety of forms, including music, storytelling, performance art, theatre, video and net.art, at venues across Canada and beyond. She often follows a practice of indigenous ‘sonic mapping’, or singing land and objects as a way of locating herself in the environment.
"From the Sami Peoples of Scandinavia to the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia to Native Peoples of North America, we have used our voices to sing and engage and ground ourselves. By adding new and old technology and sharing the experience publicly, I am doing what my ancestors have always done by adapting and using materials as tools for survival." - Cheryl L'Hirondelle
Her visit is part of a research project running at Royal Holloway, University of London, led by theatre studies professor, Helen Gilbert. The project explores contemporary indigenous performance in different parts of the world and one of its aims is to make connections with museums in Europe that hold artifacts from indigenous communities elsewhere.
Cheryl’s work with us culminates today, 2 May, in a performance/presentation inspired by her encounter with the museum titled ‘Sing Land: SongMark and other Indigenous Illuminations’. The event begins at 8pm at the Roxy Bar and Screen at 128–132 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LB (next to Sainsbury’s) and will end with a walk to the south end of the Millennium Bridge and the raising of a tipi made of light beams.
Joining Cheryl for the performance is special guest Cree singer and storyteller Joseph Naytowhow. All welcome. Admission free.