Katie Anderson

Artist based in South West Scotland; interested in people, places, materials and collaborative practice.

Tag: Sound Horn


Can an artwork retain an essence of the site-specific whilst re-locating?
Can a temporary artwork be a tool for exploring, or re-examining a site?


The second installing of Wave Decay took place as part of Sanctuary Lab, a 24 hour experiment of sound, light and art in the Galloway Forest Park. The site I selected on recommendation, is the stunning and majestic McMoab Stones, for the most part solely used by Mountain Bikers with a taste for the adventurous, these beautiful granite rocks rise out of the landscape like huge stone whales. It is an awe-some location in all manner of meanings.

The work has been heavily redeveloped sculpturally, with a series of new speaker horns created as part of a VAACMA Award 2017, in sheet copper and aluminium. They were a joy to make and gave an interestingly alien shine on the place, like small space rockets that had landed in the landscape, reflecting the tones and colours of the granite, the trees, the sky.


The conditions for Wave Decay 2017 were extreme, with heavy rain and strong winds – the site became increasingly exposed and wild as the morning continued as wet as it began. Wave Decay became an opportunity to watch the sheet rain move across the valley, and hear and feel the very essence of the place as a seeping cold, pervasive damp against all waterproofs.
The all pervading sound of Wave Decay echoing out through the rain lingers long after everything has dried out.


With extreme conditions come a kind of extreme audience. Intrepid explorers intent on the destination appeared in twos and threes, wearing increasingly serious waterproofs and boots. We casually handed out transparent wedding brollies to hold back the rain from faces at least temporarily, and visitors moved cautiously at first, over the backs of whales – picking between the puddles and up to the ridges, as the sound moved over in a constant drone of sound.

The sound, whilst difficult to explain – even in situ – provides an opportunity to re-examine place through sound, as the everyday sounds are muted and replaced by constant tones that move with the visitor, the sound unique to each pair of ears, moving and waivering discreetly between the sculptures.


It became apparent during it’s latest outing that Wave Decay is no longer the appropriate title, it started out as an exploration of decay in space and sound in the ruins of Milkbank near Lockerbie, but as it moved location clearly the name could not accurately move with it. The sound horns are the constant, and everything else adjusts in response to the site.

As the work moves on, it looks for both new sites and places to test, a new name – (perhaps the work needs to be renamed for each site, but to still have a sense of consistency across the installations), and potentially a new addition to the current sound. I would love to bring the sound of each site to following iterations of the work, and allow the sites, or ghosts of sites to work with the current tonal sounds. I would like to better share the human essence of the work, the playful exploration and the vocal ranges. The sound might like to be more human, or more animal – and better be able to share it’s sense of place. It’s a growing experiment, and I’m looking for new site locations, indoors and out, that could play host to Wave Decay’s Sound Horns. If you have ideas, responses or general interest please get in touch.


Huge thank you to everyone who made the effort to join me out of the McMoab Stones in September on a dreich Sunday morning, to everyone I spoke to and those I did not, thank you. Also big thanks to Sanctuary Lab team, Robbie and Jo, to Michael, Matt, Colin, Mike and everyone who helped get the install up last minute, Justin for the international tech support help line, to the trusty Pick Up on it’s final mission, and to the funders for helping get this project off the ground.
This project has been supported by Sanctuary Lab 2017, and the South of Scotland Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards funded by Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Live Borders.


Wave Decay heads for Sanctuary

This is really a work about listening.
It is about what you hear before, during and afterwards.

It is about the act of listening, and about experiencing through listening.
It is about how we understand environment, through our audible landscapes.

It is about switching on and tuning in, in order to switch off.

Come and explore with me. Wave Decay will re-emerge from an indecisive few months of false starts ad uncertainty in it’s new beauty as an experiment in the wilds of Galloway as part of Sanctuary Lab. The installation will run from 10am on Sunday morning, 24th September, all are welcome. Full details available here, hope to see you there!

Wave Decay, Sanctuary Headed

Really excited to announce that Wave Decay will be making a second appearance, later this year at Sanctuary. Having first created the sound and sculptural installation in collaboration with Justin K Prim last summer for Milkbank House, (details available here) the work is now being redeveloped for a new location in the Galloway Forest Park.

wave decay.jpg

Full details about the project at Sanctuary here

Wave Decay Sonotorium

sound | art | light | space

18th – 21st August 2016

Follow the Annandale Way
Step lightly
Imagine the wild as fragile
Immerse yourself in the sound fog


Wave Decay Sonotorium was a three day sound and sculptural installation created for Milkbank House, a now ruinous 19th century country house in rural Dumfries and Galloway. Working in collaboration with sound artist and energy healer Justin K Prim, the work was developed over the course of a year in response to the site and an exploration of sine wave tones.

Powered by a custom build multi-channel amplifier and speaker system, Wave Decay Sonotorium aimed to use sound to transform the space and shape the experience of exploration. A series of eight sculptural speakers, were installed throughout the ruined remains, shaping the sound and in turn re-shaping the environment around them.


As viewers moved through the space, exploring nooks and crannies, the last moments of Milkbank as it is being reclaimed by the land, the sound of Wave Decay moved and altered with them, shaping the experience of place and changing our interpretation of space, if only temporarily.

The resonance coming through the sound horns, created and concieved by Justin, were pure sine wave tones. Tuned to harmonise perfectly with the natural resonant shape of the cochlea in the ear. The relationship between the eight notes uses an ancient tuning system, believed to be beneficial to the human mind and body.


On Thursday evening, the only dinner for 50 years was hosted in Milkbank House inviting guests to spend an extended time with Wave Decay Sonotorium

Wave Decay Sonotorium was made possible with the kind support of DG Unlimited, Dumfries and Galloway Council, The Stove Network, The Holywood Trust, Robin Bell-Irving, Will, Ruth and Graeme Anderson, Robbie Coleman, Matt Baker, Mairi Singleton and the take down team family Wallace! Huge thank you’s are due to you all.

Full details of the project are available on our website, available here





During early Spring 2014 – yikes – I spent an intense month at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop. Taking time out of the everyday allowed for the pursuit of obsession. I started out without direction, walking daily and experiencing my new environment as a heightened, noticing light changes, wind movements, the bright, still winter sun shining almost warm in clear skies. My residency became a desire to create an instrument to observe or experience environment in a new way. For a variety of reasons, this plan ultimately failed. But the obsession stuck. I returned back to regular speed with a hand full of test pieces, new methods, and strands – as yet unconnected.

My favourite objects were the horns. The amplification of sound – whether projected out, or listened through, was slight, and distorted, but allowed for a new listening to space. Potential. Each placing of the horns was somehow unsatisfactory, so they have sat as talking pieces to be moved around regularly, to become part of the furniture.



Sound Horn.

Some things just take time. The residency’s work continues, and the place for horns is almost here.

Sound vessels

wave decay




Residency. Part 5: A Work in Progress



White speckled stoneware, copper oxide bisque fired to 1000. Press moulded and hand built.


After a lot of humming and hawing and uncertainty, a lot of things seemed to ping into place. I became engrossed in the notion of ‘looking’ and of creating an instrument for ‘looking’ more at our surroundings. ‘Looking’ differently, with a slight change of perception. There was also a growing notion of our need to announce our arrival, from planting flags, carrying rocks to join the topmost cairns, taking snaps for later dispersal, to the beacon bonfires of 2012. 

The ambiguity of the horn shape has gotten me a bit hooked. Horns as amplifiers, both for our own noise, and the noise of others.


Suggestions as to what this might be welcome


The foundry at SSW


Copper horn in production. Ceramic shell investment mould.


White speckled stoneware, copper oxide and copper c___ pre firing Press moulded and hand built.

Text as a means to bridge the ambiguity gap, or indeed to hint towards it became the most ideal mechanism, though my eloquence leaves a lot to be desired. Something of producing objects that will outlive myself (so long as they are not melted down for scrap/remoulding) adds to the pressure of things like text, which feel so final and static as soon as they are written, however done it is, and the text will stand as it is. 

In two halves:


And then:


The shape is fairly ideal for playing with acoustics. Rather than portraying an accurate amplifying of the current sound, it distorts, jumbles and disorientates within the built environment at least. The ceramics give a fairly satisfying echo, due to their shape and material. The copper is yet to be tested extensively, as it is also yet to be completely finished.





I’m now on the hunt for the correct mounting mechanism parts to assemble (including brass munsen rings larger than the ones I’ve got), some birch (cut into flat pieces), a joiner or carpenter, a case for the full apparatus, and some wool to make a felt lining. Every year I promise myself a camping trip to explore Scotland a bit more thoroughly, and now the quest may have to include the testing of the Sound Horns from different locations.

There is a lot to be done.