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Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Lucinda May

An image of golden-green dune grass cutting across a golden dune with a small reddish-brown mountain behind accompany a song.
Launch Project
Sharp pointed rocks of grey and green zigzag across the blue sky. The sea is below them.
A laptop and microphones sit on a sunny old stone croft window sill without glass. The view through is grass, sea, cliffs, sky.
A woman sings through a microphone in a simple church. There are 2 plain windows, a white panelled ceiling and dark brown pews.
Launch Project
A sea grey and green sea cliff rises out of the sea with white birds circling around it. The sky is blue.
Launch Project
A woman stands in an old empty church singing from a microphone. The church is ornate with cream stone pillars and a wide floor.
Sheep stand behind a fence in a green field. Red sun hits the hills in the distance.
A hill cliff rises abruptly out of blue sea. The view is from above it with sea all around. On the right the hill slopes down.
Launch Project
6 singers stand in a line at the end of an empty church with tall cream stone columns. Two technicians record to the right.
Launch Project

By scoring improvised wordless songs for British Islands I have explored what a sonic response to specific island geographies, ecologies, histories and fantasies might be, focusing on islands in the Outer Hebrides, namely, Lewis and Harris and the remote Archipelago of St Kilda.

I’ve recorded, filmed, edited and constructed; mimicked island sounds, created immediate melodies and harmonies; I’ve sung alone, formed choirs, recorded field noises and composed with local Hebridean ceilidh musicians and a family; I’ve performed live and sung for recordings, developing hand signals and conducting techniques, all while asking what might be lamented, mourned, allowed to germinate or created through this practice of reverse synesthesia. 

This work has been heavily reliant on improvisation, used both for live performance and recording, forming songs or sound pieces, some for these live recordings, others constructed from a mixture of field recordings, mimics of island noises and live songs composed in situ. The pieces recall the heterophony of Hebridean Psalm songs through their growing and swelling and diminishing, evoking themes of dying and growing again.

These featured tracks are part of a larger collection of works developed for a multichannel sound installation. Further works are available on Soundcloud.

Lucinda May is a multidisciplinary artist based in East London. She received an undergraduate MA in Fine Art from the University of Edinburgh in 2012 and an MA in Contemporary Art Practice (Public Sphere) from the Royal College of Art in 2023.

Lucinda has exhibited extensively. Some highlights include creating a choir out of the audience while performing at Tate Modern in March 2023, featuring on Montez Press Radio (2020 and 2023), ICA London’s weekly playlist and This is Tomorrow (2020). She exhibited for Espacio Pinea in Rota, Spain in 2018, for BYOB in 2017, performed at a Curatorial-Art Lab for Asia Triennial Manchester in 2017 and exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy’s New Contemporaries in 2013 where she was awarded the Carnegie Painting Travel Scholarship. 

Lucinda has received bursaries from The Turner Exhibition Fund and the Foundation of St Matthias.

She also writes, curates, makes music and oversees a community garden in Bow, East London, where she lives.

A woman sings into a microphone at Tate Modern with her hands raised. People sit on the floor in front of her.

Lucinda May is a multidisciplinary artist whose work interrogates patterns of human behaviour that have ossified on land over time. From singing in abandoned spaces to dancing in decimated churches in Bethnal Green, making artworks as gifts for a peninsular city, and often working alongside local communities, her work interrogates place-specific culture. It locates how collective meaning is formed in the social and the public and uses beauty and play to lament, question, consider alternative futures, and speculate with hope.