Sounding Images

A selection of the Barber’s most iconic paintings – as you’ve never heard them before!

Inspired by works in the gallery, here is a collection of electroacoustic pieces by University of Birmingham music students created as part of the module Sounding Images.

Take a listen and explore the artworks from another perspective.


Olli Smith An Interpretive Landscape

Artwork: Claude Lorrain A Pastoral Landscape

I was initially drawn to ‘A Pastoral Landscape’ because of its beauty – the picturesque scene in the foreground, with man and nature living in harmony, is complemented by the distant hills over the river and the warmly coloured sky above. After studying the painting further, however, I found the castle and cliff on the right-hand side of the canvas casts an ominous presence over the work, overshadowing the scenic image with its commanding and authoritative character. My composition, ‘An Interpretive Landscape’, aims to sonically represent these contrasting interpretations, placing the dark, sinister, castle in conflict with Lorrain’s Utopian vision. In doing this, I hope to challenge the viewer’s experience of the work, and encourage them to see the painting in an alternative light.


Kevin Buckland A Work in Red

Artwork: Odilon Redon ‘The Crucifixion

This is a diminutive yet extraordinarily striking painting, with it’s vividly abstract layered patchwork of burning red, orange, brown and yellow painted background. It depicts just three human images in the foreground; the central figure of Jesus on the cross, whilst to the left and right are the mourning figures of Mary, and barely visible on the right-hand side of the painting is St John.

The piece was composed as a meditation to accompany the painting. The intention is for the music to draw the listener in, encouraging them to linger whilst viewing the painting in a moment of quiet contemplation. The music asks for the listener to wait as it slowly unfurls, giving the viewer time to witness the events that are depicted in the painting, allowing them to go deeper inside the work, and to discover the artist’s intention and reason for the painting.


Ruth Knight A Beach Near Trouville

Artwork: Eugène Boudin ‘A Beach Near Trouville’

I was instantly drawn to this piece because of the subject matter: memories of my childhood started running through my mind, an element now sewn into my piece. On further research of the piece and the context in which it was painted, I found that the remote seaside town of Trouville was transformed into a popular seaside resort between 1850 and 1870. Contributing factors to this transformation were the construction of railways, a product of the french industrial revolution, as well as the publicity gained from writers and artists such as Monet and Boudin himself. Ironically, Boudin, an artist focused on capturing the beauty of nature, a pre-curser to the impressionist movement, played a part in the destruction of a once sparsely populated fishing village.

My piece focuses on this transformation. Representing the lone fisherwoman, the looping viol melody walks towards us from the distance, continually building and fragmenting until it all falls apart and returns to a safe place, a distant memory. Granular fragments of city field recordings swell and blend with the filtered white noise mimicking the sea, subtly adding elements of industrialisation. Memories of my past weave in and out of the texture, creating a reminiscent feeling replicating what Boudin may have felt once Trouville, the naturally beautiful place he spent so much time capturing in the medium of paint, changed into the popular seaside resort providing a break for city goers.