Janet Cardiff – Forty Part Motet

  • Richmond Chapel, Penzance will host Forty Part Motet by Janet Cradiff as part of Groundwork
    Image: Richmond Chapel, Penzance
  • Forty Part Motet at Richmond Chapel., Penzance
    Image: Forty Part Motet at Richmond Chapel. Photo: Steve Tanner
  • Forty Part Motet at Richmond Chapel, Penzance
    Image: Forty Part Motet at Richmond Chapel. Photo: Steve Tanner

25 May — 27 Aug 2018

10:00 — 17:00

Off Site


Janet Cardiff’s internationally acclaimed sound installation Forty Part Motet (2001) is at Richmond Chapel in Penzance, a former Wesleyan Chapel and Grade II listed building, usually closed to the public. Cardiff has reworked 16th-century composer Thomas Tallis’s choral masterpiece Spem in alium nunquam habui by recording 40 individual male voices from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir (bass, baritone, alto, tenor and child soprano) and playing each individual voice through its own speaker. The speakers are carefully positioned in eight different groups of five. Each group forms a choir of five singers with different vocal ranges so that the visitor can move amongst the 40 speakers to listen to single voices, or be immersed in the overall complexity of the choral ensemble.

The recording took place in a hall on the grounds of the cathedral. When the singers took a break during the three-hour session, Cardiff and sound editor Georges Bures Miller decided to keep recording; the singers talking and other sounds can be heard as an interlude in the final work, creating an intimate, direct connection between singers and listeners.

A Groundwork exhibition presented by Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange.

Groundwork is a season of international contemporary art in Cornwall from May to September 2018. With a focus on place and an emphasis on moving image, sound and performance, the programme presents new commissions made in Cornwall, together with existing works by internationally acclaimed artists. Groundwork is organised by Helston-based arts organisation CAST (Cornubian Arts & Science Trust).

For further information  www.groundwork.art

Directions to Richmond Chapel from The Exchange
Directions to The Exchange from Richmond Chapel

Forty Part Motet byJanet Cardiff was originally produced by Field Art Projects with Arts Council England, the Salisbury Festival, BALTIC Gateshead, The New Art Gallery Walsall, and the NOW Festival Nottingham.
Sung by Salisbury Cathedral Choir
Recording and Postproduction by SoundMoves
Edited by George Bures Miller
Produced by Field Art Projects

Janet Cardiff is celebrated for a body of work that comprises audio walks, sound works and sound installations. Born in Canada and now living in Canada and Berlin, she often works with her partner Georges Bures Miller, but first gained recognition as a solo artist.

Cardiff has exhibited at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Louisiana Museum in Denmark, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate Modern in London. In 1999 she was commissioned by Artangel to make The Missing Voice (Case Study B) in London.

She represented Canada at the São Paulo Bienal (1998) and at the Istanbul Biennial (1999) with George Bures Miller. Cardiff and Bures Miller have gone on to work together, exhibiting at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada (2002), Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2003), Vancouver Art Gallery (2005), Miami Art Museum (2007), Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2008),  Art Gallery of Alberta (2010) and in Documenta 13 (2012). Cardiff represented Canada at the 49th Venice Biennale (2001) with an exhibition that won La Biennale di Venezia Special Award.

Thomas Tallis was the most influential English composer of his generation and is one of the most popular renaissance composers of today. He served as an organist to four English monarchs – Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queens Mary and Elizabeth – as a gentleman of the Chapel Royal. One of his greatest works was this composition for forty parts – eight choirs of five voices. There is some debate as to whether the composition was authored in 1573 in celebration of Queen Elizabeth I or in 1556 to honour Queen Mary’s 40th birthday.

More information about Richmond Chapel

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Venue: Off Site

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Groundwork | a season of international contemporary art in Cornwall

Event/Workshop, Exhibition


05 May - 30 Sep 2018

Off Site