Sound Interventions at St. Moluag’s Chapel, Lewis and St. Oran’s Chapel, Iona

On Friday 17th June, John Purser’s composition was played simultaneously for four hours in both island chapels. It was an entirely different experience to hearing the bells within the gallery installation; the sound emanated from the fabric of the buildings into the surrounding landscape, literally carried by the wind beyond the structural confines of the spaces.

St. Oran’s and St. Moluag’s are powerful punctuations in the spiritual verse of sites that scatter along the coastlines of the Hebrides. They represent the medieval chapter of the story of belief in this landscape, which runs from the pre Christian through to the Reformation and beyond. The chapel names reflect the early church’s dedication to saints, and the saints they are named for are linked through Columba; Moluag, being a contemporary of Columba and Oran, being Columba’s cousin. By simultaneously introducing the bell to the chapels, in the form of John Purser’s sound piece, these buildings are linked again, unified through a shared auditory landscape.

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