In the Gallery

Joshua Woolford Artist Residency: New Dialogues with Sound

Listen to sound pieces created in response to artworks featured in the Tate collection

Joshua Woolford, Live Performance at Tate Britain. Photo by Mika Kailes

How can sound be used to surface untold or hidden stories surrounding artworks? Does sound allow us to form new relationships with and connections to art?

Responding to these questions throughout a year-long artist residency, Joshua Woolford has created six new sound pieces for the Tate Britain collection. Throughout their residency, they have explored the potential of sound to create dialogues with artworks through talks, sound pieces and live performances.


Here I share my reflections on this piece alongside an overview of Murillo’s process and practice. Field recordings and electronic sounds have been paired with my words in order to create an acoustic environment, within which we can view the piece anew. It was originally written and presented during Black History Month at Tate in 2023.

Present Tense

Mona Hatoum
Present Tense (1996)

Sounds of Palestinian artisans making traditional soap by Handmade Palestine are woven between protest songs I recorded in London. These are heard alongside resources discussing the interconnected histories of Palestine, Lebanon, Israel and the UK sourced from Radio Alhara and Learning Palestine.

The Cost of the English Landscape

Ingrid Pollard MBE
The Cost of the English Landscape (1989)

Exploring the place of Black and queer folk within the English landscape, I hosted a reading group with PRIM. We discussed themes of geography, mapping, exclusion, art, photography and race relations in the UK among others, drawing on resources from Tate and iniva’s libraries and archives. Excerpts of the readings and discussions are combined here with sounds of the countryside which I recorded in London (Epping Forest and Hackney Marshes) and the ancient woodlands of Dodford, Worcestershire.

Ronald Moody

Ronald Moody The Onlooker 1958 teak, 65 x 32 x 38 cm

Ronald Moody The Onlooker 1958 teak, 65 x 32 x 38 cm

© the artist's estate

The Onlooker guides you through the history of Tate Britain and the site it stands on. Plantations and colonisation in the Caribbean are connected with the historical marshland swamp, Millbank prison complex and finally Tate Britain gallery. Supernatural encounters and sonic reverberations merge past, present and future.

Repose on the Flight into Egypt

Glyn Warren Philpot
Repose on the Flight into Egypt (1922)

Through this piece I could connect with Ancient Egypt and related African histories, traditions and myths which were later adopted, replaced and retold through the Greek and Roman empires. These stories and their characters have been fetishised and white-washed which is something I want to interrupt with this new reading.


Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Razorbill (2020)

With this piece I wanted to expand on the possible context the sitter exists within. What might she be saying? What sounds could surround her? Bringing together a collection of sound clips by Lie Ning, Tereza Delzz, Tawiah, Tia Simon-Campbell (Sippin’ T) and myself, we each offer a voice to the central figure in the painting.

About the Residency

Over the last 12 months, Joshua Woolford has created and shared live performances at the Queer and Now festival in June 2023 and the Late at Tate Britain: Desire, Culture and History in August 2023. They have hosted a sound workshop with local youth organisation City Lions and held a reading group between Tate and iniva with PRIM, the platform for queer Black storytelling.

Woolford has actively explored the power and potential of ‘building communities around questions’. Throughout the residency, they have collaborated with a number of artists and musicians including Tawiah, Lie Ning, Tia Simon-Campbell (Sippin' T), Tereza Delzz, Zein Majali, Kenichi Iwasa, Anne Duffau and Nwakke.

I began to think of the value of the works not in their surface, in what can be seen - but in the associations and context within it exists - the dialogues it provokes with the viewer. As I’ve been engaging more with sound as a practice, as a form of resistance and a medium which can be saturated with information I wanted to expand on this idea of portals and where they might deliver us.

Joshua Woolford

About the Team

Artist: Joshua Woolford

Joshua Woolford is a transdisciplinary artist working between performance, painting, sculpture, sound, video, and installation. Woolford's work is rooted in extensive cultural research, drawing from literature, music, and art, as well as personal experiences of being a member of the queer Black Afro-Caribbean diaspora living in London. Alongside their artistic practice Woolford also takes on design commissions, lectures at London College of Communication (UAL) and is a mentor at the Royal College of Art through RCA BLK.

Through their practice, Woolford acknowledges and confronts experiences of violence, aggression, and misalignment through abstract forms and sounds, verbal language and the body. They embrace reflection, transition and movement as powerful and disruptive states that actively challenge prevailing narratives.

Hannah Geddes: Curator (Research and Interpretation)

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