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Postgraduate student joins forces with The Wilson

A University of Gloucestershire postgraduate student has collaborated with The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum in Cheltenham on a new exhibition that brings to life Captain Scott’s 1910 ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.

Samuel Pullen, who is working towards a master’s degree in Sound and Music Production, worked with The Wilson to develop a ‘listening station’ that contains audio excerpts to add an immersive dimension to an audience’s experience of The Frozen Continent.

The exhibition invites visitors to explore first-hand the experiences of Scott’s expedition team, which included accomplished explorer Edward Wilson after whom the museum is named, on their infamous journey to the Antarctic. 

Samuel joined forces with The Wilson to produce a soundtrack for the exhibition, which runs until 18 February 2024, after being offered the opportunity by the University’s Dr Matthew Lovett, Associate Professor of Music Innovation.

Samuel said: “Early in the project I had a meeting at The Wilson to chat through what they needed for The Frozen Continent, and they showed me the sort of work they wanted and the sound clips that I’d be working with.

“The work was mainly a mixing process, taking the audio clips, ordering them, adding ambience, and writing out some sheet music that they had asked if I could involve.

“This was largely new work for me, because while I’ve worked with voice recordings and this sort of mixing before, I’d never contributed in this way to an exhibition.

“As well as developing my skills with sheet music, the main skill I developed was the ability to work professionally with a range of people and trying to translate what people wanted from the piece into something that they could listen to.

“I was absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to work with the team from The Wilson, gain new skills, and provide visitors with fresh insights and knowledge about the expedition through an immersive experience.”

Skills and creativity

Dr Philip Reeder, Course Leader for MSc Sound and Music Production, said: “Samuel’s work exemplifies the innovative and interdisciplinary nature of our Master’s programme.

“His ability to transform historical audio clips into an immersive auditory experience showcases the skills and creativity that we aim to foster in our students.

“We’re proud to see Samuel’s professional growth and his valuable impact on this unique exhibition.”

‘One of the key themes of the Frozen Continent exhibition is that of legacy, particularly in relation to the research the Terra Nova team conducted that recognised the impact humans were already having on the planet and the Polar Regions.

Karen Finnegan, Learning Curator at The Wilson, said: “We worked with Samuel to produce the audio elements for the exhibition, including recordings made by Planet Cheltenham envisioning a positive future for the world where we have taken action to address the climate emergency.

“Samuel also brought the piece to life by adding atmospheric sounds and notes taken from a piece of sheet music in The South Polar Times – a magazine the crew created during their time in Antarctica.”