“I am a lonely wanderer, wounded with iron,
smitten by war-blades, sated with strife,
worn from the sword-edge…”
Originally commissioned by Rednile Projects, as part of their Factory Nights Programme, Hord Songs is an audiovisual performance piece created by Stef Conner in collaboration with visual artist Helen Stead. It combines evocative images of the Staffordshire landscape, maps, medieval manuscripts and Anglo-Saxon artifacts with a vocal and electronic soundscape based on Old English riddles about weaponry, gold, conflict and exile. The piece was inspired by the Staffordshire Hoard and was premiered at the Hoard exhibit at the potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, in June 2013. The images projected during the performance were captured by a camera trap, worn by the artist as she explored the landscape in which the hoard was discovered. Evoking the fragmentary character of the items in the hoard and our limited understanding of its history, her images are a mixture of clear and blurred, tangible and abstract forms. The music is a complimentary web of clearly articulated phrases, barely discernible words and amorphous clouds of language fragments, obscured by their similarity with atmospheric sounds. It take the form of a six-movement piece, which is now available to buy on CD.
After its 2013 premiere performance, by Stef Conner, Graham Bier (bass), Lizzie Marshall (sop) and Jon Hughes (live sound), Hord Songs received a second outing in July 2014, at Lichfield Cathedral – where another selection of objects from the Staffordshire Hoard are on display – this time with Peyee Chen (sop) and Andrew Hopper (bass).