High Spirits is a creative audio company for adults living with visual impairment in the East of England.
The group’s latest project was Woodland Voices, a collaboration between Cohere Arts and Green Light Trust, supported by Ipswich Museum. The project was made possible by People’s Postcode Lottery players with funding awarded by Postcode Places Trust.
Throughout August, High Spirit members spent time in Green Light Trust’s Castan Wood in Martlesham, where they learned about the woodland and took part in a range of activities from woodwork to creative writing and campfire cookery. Following this, they took part in a series of creative workshops led by Artistic Director Amy Mallett, writer/director Emma Bernard and sound artist Simon Keep at the Gallery Studio Theatre in Ipswich. In the workshops the group created and recorded audio artworks including poetry, songs, stories and soundscapes inspired by spending time in the woodland environment.
“Audio is the perfect medium for us, it takes the stress out of the physicality of performing and enables us to be more creative.”High Spirits member
The project culminated in Woodland Voices; an audio exhibition held at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich on Friday 28th October 2022. The event invited public audiences to drop in to Christchurch Mansion and borrow ‘silent disco’ wireless headphone sets to listen to the audio artworks the group created.
“Spending time in the woods has made me physically and mentally a lot more healthy. It’s been so peaceful and such a lot of fun. I feel lighter and more relaxed, and I still feel the effects of being there throughout the week.”High Spirits member
A full evaluation of the Woodland Voices project can be found here.
A Hoodingeroo at Otley Bottoms
The group’s first project was an audio drama project funded by East Suffolk Council’s Boost Fund. The project began in Nov 2021 with weekly workshops at Woodbridge Library in which participants explored:
- local ghost stories (old and new)
- what makes a good audio drama
- creative writing skills and character development
- sound design and effects
- voice acting
“It’s built up my confidence – made me feel part of something.”Project participant
Over 10 weeks, the group worked together to create a brand new radio play based on oral histories of supernatural experiences in Suffolk and beyond. After rehearsing and character work with director Emma Bernard, the piece was recorded at the library and also on site at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. The new radio play ‘A Hoodingeroo at Otley Bottoms’ was first shared in a celebratory Zoom event and Q & A session on Mon 25th April 2022, and then received public airings on Rendlesham Community Radio and BBC Radio Suffolk.
“At no point during any part of the project did I feel disabled, and I think that’s really important.”-Project participant
You can listen to the 32-minute drama on YouTube.