Lüsenen… on reflection…

Lüsenen… on reflection…

Some thoughts on ‘Lüsenen’…

Queues of people outside the big red door of the crypt.

Limiting the numbers of people at any given time down there as it is quite unbelievable how much the amount of visitors and their way of experiencing a work like this influences the piece itself. In my experience every project presents some magical surprise and with ‘Lüsenen’ I have a feeling it was how people interacted with the crypt when in the almost dark, a few battery operated candles dimly lighting the way.

Ann-Margreth Bohl

Sculptor and installation artist

What I kept thinking about, both during and after, was permanence and impermanence. It was hard not to with the weight of the cathedral bearing down from above, and surrounded by the sense of centuries of faith.

The use of a Middle High German word to name the installation really interested me.  Not only was it contemporaneous with the building of the crypt, but those who had used Lüsenen as part of their everyday language would not have ever imagined that it would fall out of use. That the words with which they communicated with each other were not permanent, and would not be commonly spoken or heard a few hundred years later. And it combined with the idea that while the sounds played in the installation had been recorded, they are not actually permanent, they only really exist in the moment in which they are heard.

The siting of the installation in the cathedral crypt grounded the experience in centuries of tradition, history and human experience. Moving through the spaces  in such low light conditions created an atmosphere of attention, participants had to listen keenly, had to be aware of who and what was around them. The resulting experience was highly personal, each participant heard the sounds from their own physical perspective, and I was struck by how it commanded total commitment to the moment. There could never be any repetition of the combination of sound or light. I am aware, a couple of weeks later, of how clear my memories of the experience are. I can remember certain moments with much more clarity than I would normally expect, they are imprinted on my memory. My own version of a permanent record.

Joanna L

Installation visitor

Entering the same chapel on a previous night, two people sitting in a corner huddled up to each other, silent, absorbed. I stand close, we are silent together, absorbed in the same silence, more people join, stand close to us, entering the same silence, the layering of atmospheres, of absorption, having a, experience together.

I suddenly feel like I am in a play, I am the audience, observing how people want to find their way, how unsure they are, how some help each other without words joining candles together, moving them towards the floor so to show the way.

Something is so familiar and ancient about all of this and it is not just the space…it is what makes us humans human and how we recognise each others searching.

So I find myself wondering how it came that a experience of sound has joined into a experience of humans in the dark, how has it turned into this performative space, how can it be that I am the one that wanted to understand something of the architecture of this space ends up to understands a bit more how humans share some experiences and behave in similar ways if we allow ourselves to have a experience.

Ann-Margreth Bohl

Sculptor and installation artist

Circles of light moving up and down the solid, roughly carved walls of the crypt, hands touching into the circles of light, silently stroking them… dark figures standing around, watching the hand move over the stone whilst listening to the atmospheric screeching sounds.

Little orange flames at the end of the corridor dancing up n down like fireflies, dark figures moving towards them. Closer to the dancing flames and when turned toward the ‘candleholder’ shadows dance over the wall behind them up and down up and down as the arms move in search for finding a way into the unknown.

Sitting silently on a step in the most remote of chapels in the crypt, by us revered too as ‘death chapel’… people in the form of dark cut out shapes coming close, hesitating to move into the pitch black… I am sitting there watching their hesitation their vulnerability, their human ways of moving when not sure if and how to move, if it is safe to do so or not.

Nobody knows that I am here, sitting on this step, silently..I do not want to frighten them, I tap my phone pressed on my knees for the screen to gently glow… I am here, don’t be frighted.

‘I saw this figure in the dark it did not move, was it alive or dead?’

Ann-Margreth Bohl

Sculptor and installation artist

A little reflection

A little reflection

Some time has passed since my last post….a good moment for me to gather up thoughts that have come up whilst drawing to sound.

What is the difference between a sound/ sounds and a song?

I am thinking about rock and how solid, ancient and heavy it is.

…dense matter of deep time.

Sound, similar to light in as such that it is ephemeral and yet has the power to touch us deeply.

Can sound inspire form, if so how?

Sound forms sound waves full of geometry and symmetry and how do I respond to sound, which forms do I draw, sculpt when listening to sound? 

As mentioned in one of my previous blog post I have started to listen to birdsong, collecting recordings, drawing to them.

Some of you might remember when I worked with light. Drawings from a couple of years ago were based on how light moves in architectural spaces, with the result that I drew often sheets of light, layering them.

Looking back I was trying to understand the science of light, holding on to some qualities of this material.

I am not a scientist…my job is to give my interpretation of a material, be it light or sound or solid rock.

This realisation is giving me permission to tap into my own observations and experiences and to create new once for myself and for you my audience.

I love the sharing aspect of my work, I see it as an integral part of what I do.

Lüsenen… sound installation, Gloucester Cathedral

Lüsenen… sound installation, Gloucester Cathedral

Over the last few weeks I have visited the crypt…each time noticing more qualities in the different spaces.

Simon and I have been listening to a few recordings, randomly selected.

Elle singing into the font in the second chamber (amazing reverb!)…a recording of my heart beating (bit scary:-)) and as we were listening ideas started to develop…to create and layer rhythms…to have silences.

As I am writing this we are in the final preparation stage for this sound-installation…

Sound-Installation in the Crypt of Gloucester Cathedral

October 31st, 1st& 2nd November 2019, 6-9pm

Each chamber in the crypt of Gloucester Cathedral has unique acoustic qualities.

Ann-Margreth Bohl sculptor and installation artist https://www.annmargrethbohl.com/about/

is collaborating with a team of musicians/ composer/ sound designer and a sound engineer to discover, record and transform sound qualities discovered in the crypt culminating in a sound-installation.

Eleanor Holliday https://naturalvoice.net/practitioner/eleanorholliday

Simon McCorry https://www.simonmccorry.com/home

Sid Wells https://www.thesoundagency.com/team/

Through several visits to the chambers…singing, playing the cello and recording some of the crypts resonance a library of sounds has been created by holding on to acoustic surprises and treasures found.

Over the coming months this collection is revisited and edited to form abstract sound compositions, installed in the crypt.

The visitors to ‘Lüsenen’ are invited to listen and connect with the crypt in unexpected ways.

As participants move close or further away the sounds naturally change, creating a individual experience for everyone.

Each chamber will house battery run speakers emitting sound.

‘Lüsenen’ / to listen/ middle high German spoken 1050 and 1350

Foundations of crypt at Gloucester Cathedral were laid in 1058



Birdsong…will it form part of the sound-installation? Or is it perhaps a different project all together?

Not sure what it is about birds, did I ever really listened to them?

I was always sure of them being there and all of a sudden I feel alarmed that perhaps one day soon they might not be around anymore.

I listen to birds and I am not sure which birds they are, I recognise a blackbird a robin and a crow for sure, seagulls also.

I listen and draw, focusing on the rhythm and the richness of sound, if it is round and soft or a little sharper…

I overlay my marks if the song is repeating itself.


I am finding myself being experimental, open and playful.

Enjoying to be inspired by a new discovery ‘the voice of birds’.



Natural Sound…

Natural Sound…

I spend the last few days in Pembrokeshire, right by the sea, listening to purely natural sound, perhaps the odd tractor of a nearby farm.

Natural sounds that I became aware of were the wind, birdsong, waves, water ‘licking’ rocks in the sea as water spiralled in a seesaw motion around them.

Every now and then when the path dipped low inside the land, the sound of wind stopped…momentary stillness rising…birdsong and the watery rhythm gaining clarity.

These sounds have something soothing, even the wind whilst up on a cliff.

Absence of human activity.

Moving between two materials…Light…Sound…

Moving between two materials…Light…Sound…

Over the last few months I found myself quietly drawing away in the early morning hours.

At times in total silence with my focus on the light falling on a black sheet of paper.

Initially I drew with the big lights in the studio switched on as this was during the winter months a logical thing to do to actually see what I was doing at 7am.

I started feeling energised by the way the graphite dots and scribbles added up over the page, much freer than the architectural drawings of 2017 in conjunction of ‘Passing Light’.

I sometimes drew to music, ‘bangers’ by Four Tet or ‘abstract’ spacious pieces by Brian Eno/ Nils Frahm/ Simon McCorry/ Ceeys to mention but few.

My thoughts and feelings became slightly confused to what I am doing, felt mark making, exploring the qualities and interaction of graphite on black paper.

As I created a rhythm to my practice, returning to the black sketchbook every morning my connection to the process grew into a little more knowing and the wish to explore new discoveries round the corner.

Moved by silence or by the music I travelled with my imagination around forms, spaces trying to capture something of time, perhaps like a time lapse that captures where the light has been a moment before and where it might be heading.

Few times through these months I felt focused and safe enough to switch off my thoughts and trust the process as it unfolds.


I want to compare two drawings, themes they have in common, where they differ.

‘Tectonic Shift’ came after a long stream of immersing myself in the drawing process mentioned. I remember the day this drawing unfolded, it happened with ease, I trusted the process enough to go with it. Forms that come up in my drawings…arising here without me feeling I need to get this right, I purely reacted to the impulses that came up, feeling the need to put the pencil down lightly and by doing so moving and shaping light around form. I felt the timing was right the drawing made sense, what manifested itself on the paper matched my feelings and yet I don’t understand it to this day which means it makes me still feel curious.

Months after ‘Tectonic Shift’ and a feeling of being lost that often paralysed me to actually want to draw anything I settled for that I was not sure anymore if my drawing is really anything to do with light and form or if these marks that I am making are the only thing at the moment that manage to ignite a ‘spark’ in me.

Are my drawings still to do with light? Am I, by nurturing this assumption, holding on to something of the past that has outlived its energy but gives me permission to carry on regardless?

‘Vivacious Breeze’

…one morning in May 2019…arriving in my studio early, trying to draw in silence…waiting for a feeling that moves me to make a mark…the lights are off, the morning light was just fine…nothing happened but before a sinking motion stopped further pursuit…

I put Brian Eno’s ‘Reflection’ on and made the decision to only make a mark when feeling ‘it’.

This drawing is my response to the energy of the sound in this piece.

I am for now using the same materials I draw light with, graphite/ black paper.

I have been working with music on and off and can see a difference in the mark making depending on which music I listened to but never consciously switched my full attention to this difference.

Transition time!