Murmuration – Right Up Our Street

By Vicky Prior

This week, Doncaster Minster will be turned into a fabulous light show. One of the main attractions is Wayne Sables’ latest light projection, Murmurations. This piece is themed around the flight of starlings and how their close knit flight patterns mimics the close knit community of Doncaster.

What is Right Up Our Street and DN Festival

Right Up Our Street is a local arts organisation that programs mini festivals for Doncaster residents. A highlight each year (when pandemics permit!) is the DN Festival of Light. Based at Doncaster Minster, the festival sees the Minster transformed inside by a lighting installation, while the grounds are taken over by smaller pieces. This year the main piece is The Crossing Place, by Heinrich and Palmer, on the theme of natural history. Wayne Sables commission also looks to the natural world.

Quarantine Creates

During the 2020 lockdown, Right Up Our Street awarded seed funding to local artists under the banner Quarantine Creates. Wayne was given funding to create a project around Doncaster’ sense of community, and how that community was responding to lockdown conditions. Wayne saw that community ties were strengthened by lockdown, and that the sense of community remained once lockdown ended. Through citizen journalism, Wayne collected audio from Doncaster residents describing what had been great for them about living in Doncaster during the lockdown. This insight became the basis for his festival installation.

Murmuration and the Doncaster community

Many people chose the pandemic as a time to get back to nature and Wayne was no exception. While visiting Potteric Carr, a local nature reserve, Wayne observed the starling population. Starlings are well known for their murmurations, patterns that the flock make in the sky, often said to resemble a complex dance. Wayne describes the sight as reminiscent of how ‘a community works really well when they move together, support each other, and create beautiful things when they are in sync’. Wayne loves living in Doncaster and feels it is a privilege to create a work for and about the Doncaster community. Sculpture by Patrick Amber, music by Nicholas Lewis and digital by Wayne Sables.

How the installation will work

While Wayne is a man of many talents, it was clear to him that this project would need to be a collaboration. He took the audio interviews to composer Nick Lewis who transformed them into a new sound score. Wayne then commissioned sculptor Patrick Amber to build a starling. The sculpture, standing 4m wide and 2.5m tall, will have a series of geometric patterns projected onto it inspired by the shapes made during murmuration. The entire projection map lasts 1p minutes, bringing the starling to life with colour and sound. The visuals can be controlled by the audience using a button panel. This will create new patterns and combinations and link the artwork physically to the people of Doncaster.

How to visit, times, tickets

The DN Festival of Light runs from the 25th-28th November 2021. Time slots are available from 5pm each night although tickets are being booked quickly so some slots may now be booked up. The whole event is free to enter, but a slot must be booked in advance.


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