Artist Statement: Polyphonic Practice and Vocalising Site

I am a visual artist, singer-composer and performance maker, working in Bristol UK. My work spans the mediums of sound, performance, voice, drawing, music composition, video and artistic direction. READ MORE HERE

Follow my work on
Facebook and Twitter


  • SITE SINGING LIVE AT THE SOUND CUPBOARD Live performance at The Crofters Rights, 28th March 800pm

I will be performing my vocal work ‘Long Barrow’, more details:

SITE SINGING Ongoing vocal sound-art, field recording, performance and drawing project Read more
Click the image below to go directly to the Site Singing blog:

sitesinging logo

  • DEAD SPACE CHAMBER MUSIC Live performances
I contribute voice, sound works and artwork to Dead Space Chamber Music, a dark-ambient trio, currently performing in Bristol. We perform sets of multi-layered heavy / dark ambient / ethereal / neoclassical / gothic / melodic sound, often saturated in drones and field-recording based soundscapes. Our live sets are approached as a form of aural ritual, constructed to form sonic-arcs which integrate and reinterpret songs reaching back to the 14th century, alongside original semi-improvised extended pieces.

For the upcoming gigs, photos and videos:
Follow Dead Space Chamber Music on Facebook


Tom Bush - guitars + FX, programming / treatments
Liz Muir - cello + FX
Ellen Southern - voice, visuals, vocal field recordings / sound-works

Performances to date:
SOUND Service at Shoreditch Church, London, with Skopje, February 2018
Dark Alchemy II at the crypt of St John on the Wall, Bristol with Kolophōn (Agathe Max & Drew Morgan) and New Haunts, January 2018
Supporting Cold In Berlin on their UK tour, with NAUT at the Old England, Bristol, October 2017
Supporting House of Light on their international tour, with New Haunts, October 2017
- A Night Of Dark Alchemy with New Haunts and Kolophōn (Agathe Max & Drew Morgan) at the Old England, July 2017
The Gryphon, Bristol, supporting Jungfrau (Wizzarding Promotions), June 2017 see video
The medieval crypt of St Johns-On-The-Wall, Bristol, May 2017 (see video below)
- The Old England, Bristol, with
Ocean Floor and Sat Nav, April 2017
20th Century Flicks video shop, Bristol, December 2016
The Cube Microplex, with Uther Moads and Myth, October 2016
The Bristol Hum festival, The Edwardian Cloakroom, Bristol, July 2016
Sanctum, Temple Church Bristol, as part of the non-stop 24-hour for 24 days performance project by Theaster Gates, Nov - Dec 2015
- Testing Ground live event, The Others, London, March 2013

DSCM at St Johns crypt
DSCM pro photo1
DSCM pro foto2
DSCM pro foto 3
Dead Space Chamber Music live at Dark Alchemy II, the crypt of Saint John On The Wall, Bristol, January 2018. Photography by Katie Murt

Dead Space Chamber Music live in the Crypt: Dark Alchemy II from Ellen Southern on Vimeo.


  • SITE SINGING PODCAST Avon Stories, December 2017

Sarah Connolly from Avon Stories accompanied me on a Site Singing field trip to document my vocal field recording project. We discussed the site itself, Over Bridge just outside Gloucester, in relation to vocal exploration, and the approaches to site specific sound work that I have developed in this project.

Listen to the podcast here:

Read the article on the Avon Stories site:

site singing avon stories podcast image

  • SITE SINGING at EXIT STRATEGIES Group exhibition and live performance at RAW Berlin, December 2017
I was invited to exhibit my Site Singing project as part of a group exhibition, ‘Exit Strategies: Individual Utopias’ curated by artist Markus Feiler. I presented drawings, photography and vocal sound-works, as well as doing a live performance of my live voice and field recording work ‘Long Barrow’ at the opening event. The exhibition spanned painting, installation and sound, and included work by Markus Feiler, Marion Richter, Andrea Spickermann and Anke Droste.

Exit Strategies: Individual Utopias website

exit strategies flyer
exit strategies opening4
exit strategies opening
exit strategies opening 3
exit strategies opening2
exit strategies2
exit strategies1
exit strategies3
exit strategies4
exit strategies5
exit strategies6
exit strategies7

  • RELEASE OF ‘COMPOUND’ Collaboration with BURL, 2016-17
I am pleased to say that the 30min live work COMPOUND, which resulted from my collaboration with BURL (Joanna Pucci) last year, is now released and available here:


We toured this work in Bristol (Thorny at The Cube Microplex, Schwetfest 2.0 by Cacophonous Sarcophagus at The Exchange, and at the Surrey Vaults), Cardiff (Undertone) and London (New River Studios). Scroll down for more documentation from this collaboration.

We were noted as ‘One of Four new Acts You Need To Know’ in a review by Crack magazine:
“Shrouded in veils and clad in black, Pucci lets her vapourous productions, sometimes presented with help from the talents of vocal sound artist Ellen Southern, diffuse under the sound of live bells, rung as if by an unseen force [...] a meditative seance for increasingly dark times.”

Read the full review: Four New Acts You Need To Know - review in Crack Magazine (August 2016)

COMPOUND image for release

  • SITE SINGING LIVE AT THE BRISTOL HUM FESTIVAL 2017 The Surrey Vaults, Bristol, Sunday 17th September 2017
I created a new live vocal performance, ‘Long Barrow’ for the Bristol Hum Festival of Experimental and Improvised Music 2017. Listen out for announcements of further performances of this work, by following me on twitter, @ellen_southern, or on my artist page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EllenSouthernVoice/ .

Read the Site Singing blog entry about the origins of the piece, and hear work in progress.

Hear an extract from the live performance here:


hum logo 2017
Long Barrow live at Bristol Hum2017
Photo: Gemma Fae
long barrow at hum by alice
Photo: Alice Sheridan

I was invited to London to lead a workshop based on the approaches and methods which I have developed in my Site Singing project for the Moon Choir, an experimental improvised singing collective begun by Conny Prantera.

Moon Choir sessions are run monthly, and afterwards in the same space is The Sun At Night, where artists in any medium are invited to perform and try out new works. We presented a version what we had been doing at of the Site Singing workshop earlier that day. I also performed a solo song, which is a bare-bones version of O Deathe Rock Me Asleepe (attr. Anne Boleyn), which I perform with my band
Dead Space Chamber Music.

Read more about the session here

Site Singing with The Moon Choir - live at The Sun At Night from Ellen Southern on Vimeo.

st leonards church

I was invited to introduce the project ahead of taking to The Stage for Site Singing’s live debut with singers Leila Gamaz and Chloé Turpin.

“The Stage (Working Title) now in Gallery 1 for our Spring Season offers space and apparatus for performance, gathering, idling and discussion. This week on The Stage we can enjoy the live debut of Ellen Southern’s vocal field-recording project, Site Singing”.

Read the full article here

See video and more from Site Singing at The Stage on the Bristol-made works page

site singing blog still

CITIES AND MEMORY: SACRED SPACE Commission, international project released February 2017
I created a new sound work for Cities and Memory, in response to a call out to re-imagine a field recording of a sacred space. The scope of the project was huge: recordings from 34 countries bringing together 123 artists and field recordists from around the world.

The project has received much acclaim since its release, and has been widely shared via social media.
Hear BBC radio interviews with curator Stuart Fowkes here.

Hear all the works and see the global sound-map on the Sacred Spaces webpage

My piece was created from an ambient recording of a rainstorm from within West Ogwell church in Devon:

I chose this recording for its atmosphere and sonic texture. It offered the possibility for me to create a voice-based sound work from an audio track free from prescribed musical sound, voices or melody.

I approached the making of my re-imagined track as a form of ritual in itself. I took some quiet hours alone and created a space to work on my sonic response. I dimmed the lights, lit a candle, and the moon was rising. I listened intensely to the original recording over and over, and enjoyed becoming increasingly aware of the physicality of the layers of sound. The cumulative effect was quite trance-like. I instinctively found myself listening for tones or ‘voices’ within the white noise of the rain, and was startled by two sounds near the end of the track which seemed to be just that – either human or a bird (an owl?). This made me think of EVP (electronic voice phenomena): ambient recordings made by those listening back for presences or traces of the dead. I have heard a demonstration of EVP recordings in an English church previously, and this experience influenced the aesthetics of some of my past works. There is a kind of focus quality of perception when listening for such ‘voices’, as well as a minimal sound-world of empty air, sonic interference and glitching (hissing, white noise, wind disturbance etc.), as well as the sounds of recording devices themselves. Remembering this, I decided to keep my response similarly plain, yet make it dense and uncertain, a touch austere, with the feeling of being a found-recording of some strange past event.

Read more about the creation of the West Ogwell piece here

Hear the original fiend recording by Tony Whitehead, here

sacred spaces tweet3
sacred spaces tweet2
sacred spaces tweet1
sacred spaces image


“Bristol-based artist Ellen Southern takes experimental music to extraordinary new heights. Choral singer come performance artist, her work draws on the history of singing to create a fresh style rooted in tradition...Her current polyphonic (multi-voiced) work seeks to instill the multi-dimensionality of fine art into contemporary sound performances...In our world of instant gratification and shortening attention span, Southern's less-is-more philosophy is not only refreshing, it is the dawning of redemption”

Read the full article: http://speakingvisuals.co.uk/blog/meet-the-artist-ellen-southern

speaking visuals logo

BURL featuring Ellen Southern ‘Compound’, a live noise / drone / ritual work
Over the last few months I have been collaborating with Joanna Pucci, who invited me to be guest vocalist on a live project with
BURL (I first encountered her at the Eastonia event where I presented Site Singing , see below).

We have been performing an ever-evolving 30 min sound/noise/drone/ritual piece, which we have recently recorded and titled COMPOUND,which is now released:


We were noted in a review in Crack magazine:
“Shrouded in veils and clad in black, Pucci lets her vapourous productions, sometimes presented with help from the talents of vocal sound artist Ellen Southern, diffuse under the sound of live bells, rung as if by an unseen force [...] a meditative seance for increasingly dark times.”

Read the full review: Four New Acts You Need To Know - feature in Crack Magazine (August 2016)

crack review1
crack review 2

Performances to date:
The Surrey Vaults Bristol, supporting Pheromoans, 15th April 2016
- THORNY club night at the Cube Microplex, Bristol, 16th April 2016
New River Studios London, June 5th supporting Pheromoans (thanks to Conny for the image below - video coming soon!)
Cacophonous Sarcophagus: Schwetfest 2.0 at The Exchange, Bristol, 16th July 2016
Undertone, Cardiff, supporting The Death of Money and Bruxa Maria, 24 September 2016

BURL and ellen southern at Undertone cardiff 24 sept 2016
BURL with Ellen Southern New River Studios June2016

  • POLYPHONY: experiments and adventures in voice Solo exhibition at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol 2nd - 6th September 2016
After a successful debut solo exhibition in July 2015, this autumn I returned to Centrespace Gallery to show a selection of interdisciplinary works. The opening event featured a durational site-specific vocal performance for four female voices, as well as some roof-raising polyphonic singing with friends from Bristol Sacred Harp.

Selected visitors comments:

“A beautiful, haunting show. Love the combination of sound and visual material.”

“Intriguing and a different way of using audio and voice. I love the fact that its playful, haunting, and ritualistic. Thank you.”

“Really haunting and moving – loved the ‘Site Singing’ photos of Over Bridge, and the ‘Fugue’ installation.”

“An absolutely brilliant collection of interactions. Very touching, I didn’t want to leave (I came back!). The human voice in all its rich experience. If there is anywhere else to go, Ellen will take us there.”

“This is one of the most brain-tingling events I have ever witnessed. There should be more of this sort of stuff in Bristol – and elsewhere.”

“Thank you for realising things that I have been feeling around in my head for years and never had the courage to put into concrete. Brilliant!”

Exhibition overview: Centrespace Website

For updates: follow @ellen_southern & see #polyphonyexhib

POLYPHONY: Press Release

Bristol Sacred Harp on Bandcamp

Artist text: “Welcome to POLYPHONY”

polyph perf small2
singing in exhib small
FUGUE video still small

SALTINGS PRESENTS - THE BRISTOL HUM Experimental music and film festival, 6th - 10th July, The Edwardian Cloakroom, Bristol
Engaged Voice returned to the Edwardian Cloakroom, but slightly altered...! Vocal recordings from my 2014 site-specific exhibition Engaged Voice were re-worked by myself and Tom Bush as Dead Space Chamber Music, with the excellent addition of cello by Liz Muir (Saltings).

Hear excerpts for the performance here


Dead Space Chamber Music on Facebook

@saltingsmusic & see #thebristolhum & #EngagedVoice

Bristol Arts Development guest blog: Engaged Voice

dscm at bristolhum


Dead Space Chamber Music (myself and guitarist Tom Bush) have released a free Demo EP, integrating vocal sound-scapes from my ongoing Site Singing project. The collection of tracks include material from our performances at Sanctum (see below)


Dead Space Chamber Music on Facebook

dscm ep image

Artwork: ‘Amphisbaena’ by Ellen Southern

SANCTUM: Theaster Gates / Situations / MAYK October - November 2015
I took part in this ambitious sound project as part of
Dead Space Chamber Music, integrating vocal sound-scapes from my ongoing Site Singing project.

I sang as part of
Bristol Sacred Harp choir, and while the project ran, was invited to sing ‘What Shall I Do With My Hands’, a 5am incantation to the rhythm of a potters wheel by Louisa Fairclough with singer Chloë Somers and Lou Gilbert Scott of Potstop.

See the Sanctum Bristol website and blog for documentation of the project

Read the Guardian review of Sanctum

See #sanctumbristol on Twitter

Performing with Tom Bush as Dead Space Chamber Music

What Shall I Do With My Hands

‘What Shall I Do With My Hands”, photo by Louisa Fairclough


  • AMALGAMS: an interdisciplinary immersive performance at the John Wesley Chapel, Bristol: Saturday 31st October 2015

Amalgams (def: a mixture or blend) was a new collaborative performance created together with other invited practitioners by the Onomato Collective. Fellow invited participants included musicians Tina Hitchens, Dominic Lash & Hannah Marshall, electronic artist Liam McConaghy: Microdeform , film maker Louisa Fairclough and Film Curator Kim Knowles (both part of the BEEF film group, Bristol). Many thanks to fellow shapenote-singers Rachel Wemyss, Leila Gamaz and Chloë Somers from Bristol Sacred Harp. See a short video below by Ben Owen.

Read more about AMALGAMS here

Part of the
Bristol and Bath Art Weekender 2015

A M A L G A M S Short event document by Onomato from Benjamin Owen on Vimeo.

chapel amalgams1
chapel amalgams3
amalgams pulpit
Photos and poster by Ben Owen of Onomato Collective, additional photos by Ellen Southern

amalgams small

BRISTOL FESTIVAL OF SONG 9th - 18th October 2015

Bristol Sacred Harp made a Festival of Song debut this year, taking part in Song Raids on a variey of locations on the harbour, and performing a lunchtime concert at the amazing St Mary Redcliffe Cathedral.

Hear the audio here

We also led a shape-note singing workshop at
The American Museum, Bath.

bristol sacred harp at st mary redcliffe

american museum

EASTONIA - exploring landscapes with artists and academics Friday 9th October 2015
I presented Site Singing as part of an innovative new event series curated by Guy Lochhead. Poster artwork by Alice McFarlane.

See the blog entry about the event on the Site Singing website

See the event Facebook page for info on all participants

Hear Guy Lochheads mixtape on the theme of ‘ruins’

Eastonia 2_low small

I really enjoyed the
Supernormal Festival 2015, a three-day experimental arts and music festival in Braziers Park, Oxfordshire. We gave a shape-note singing workshop, where we got tens of first-timers singing loud and proud!

See the Bristol Sacred Harp website to join us for weekly singing

Hear audio clips from the 2nd annual
Bristol All Day Singing 2015

bristolsacredharp at supernormal


This track was created by visitors on a performative tour I gave of the exhibition of Reto Pulfer's water-inspired installation Gewässerzeiten. Pulfer's own composition which plays in the space can be heard, as well as distant excerpts from the nearby installation of Patrick Staff's The Foundation.

See & download the exhibition programme here

About the tour:
The day of the tour coincided with World Listening Day (see above), which was on the theme of water. So I suggested we use our voices to create layers of watery sounds as we walked meditatively amongst the installation. This informal interactive tour proposed and explored potential connections between these two seemingly contrasting shows, testing out how one exhibition might in fact reveal insights into the other.

The audience was invited to share in this process, through open discussion, personal reflection and through participatory activities (a collaborative mnemonic-drawing and this group sound-work) in order to enact and realise shared themes such as notions of archiving documentary and collecting, revealing the means of making, memory, sanctuary, trust and generosity.
Many thanks to all for taking part and sharing thoughts and experiences!

Current programme: Spike Island


SITE SINGING - vocal Explorations of English Heritage Sites solo exhibition at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, 4th - 8th July 2015
Thank you to all who joined me at
Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, to hear and reflect on work in progress from my current project.

“Engaging sound-sketches, inspired by visits to some of Bristol’s finest heritage sites” - Bristol Life

“Southern is a genuine polymath...the execution [of her sound-sketches] requiring dedication, planning, and hard work. [They are] all created by the artist using her own voice [with] each piece drawing on her fine art and drawing background” Louise Trimby, Bristol 24/7
read full article here

About the exhibition
: Since last summer, sound artist Ellen Southern has visited a variety of heritage sites within a day of Bristol by foot and public transport, in keeping with Bristol being Green Capital 2015. At each site, she has experimented with her own voice and the acoustics of each space, using her voice to vocalise, or give voice to, these sites.

The resulting sound sketches, created from recordings made at these sites, are works in progress towards final audio works. These will be downloadable by the public, with the aim of contributing to the visitor interpretation of, and encourage engagement with, these lesser known English Heritage sites.

The exhibition will offer the opportunity to hear the sound works created so far, with varying combinations presented each day, and discuss their making with Ellen. Drawings and photographs from the field trips will be exhibited alongside the sound works.
Read more

Read an exclusive article on Site Singing featured in Sound Art Text

See the latest from #SiteSinging on twitter

e-flyer Site Singing at Centrespace Gallery July 3rd-8th 2015


Read an article I wrote about my site-specific vocal residency Engaged Voice, at the Edwardian Cloakroom, November 2014. The article features a specially made video documenting the work.

screengrab CSP guest blog