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Vanilla (extract), recorded for BBC Radio Bristol, broadcast dates 02 and 11 September 2020

'Vanilla' starts out by describing a local marketplace (St Nicholas' Market, Bristol) where I later find a job as a cafe assistant in the cake shop. After chastising myself on what went wrong after university, and how I ended up there, the focus of the essay shifts into that of a strangely erotic hallucination. I take pleasure in imaging myself on top of a wedding cake, slipping and sloshing about in vanilla vegan buttercream. 

'There’s a famous market near where I live. My favourite time to go is early in the morning, before the crowds of overeager tourists and jaded office-workers get there, just as the stalls are being set up. The market itself has an indoor part, an outdoor part, and an indoor-outdoor part, and is housed in a tastefully decrepit old corn exchange, built out of a warm, golden limestone. The site has been used as a market, I understand from the signs put up everywhere, since 1734.' 

Radio presenter Lillie-Mae Stubbs introduces an extract from my personal essay 'Vanilla', which I recorded for BBC Radio Bristol. 'This is amazing,' Stubbs very kindly says. 'It’s called “Vanilla”, and as I said earlier, it’s nothing of the sorts.’

URL BBC Sounds

Germination (extract), a collaboration with Alice Boyd, exhibiting in 'Climate Intersectionality', Louder Than The Storm, exhibition date 01-30 September

 Louder Than The Storm is an environmental movement dedicated to positivity, hope, and inspiration in the face of the climate crisis. They have organised, 'Climate Intersectionality', a multidisciplinary exhibition showcasing artists' responses to ecological issues. I worked with sound designer and environmental campaigner Alice Boyd to produce 'Germination', an extract taken from my longer essay of the same name. After seeing photographs of the salt flats in Bolivia (where my medication lithium carbonate is mined from), I wanted to explore the tension between my need for this drug and its undeniable environmental impact. Alice has responded to my recording of the text with an electronic soundscape, one which communicates the eerie beauty of the salt flats, as well as their direct connection to my own body—particularly, my tears. 'Germination' marks the beginning of our ongoing collaboration. 

'I sat on the foot of my bed with my head in my hands and I cried and cried. I cried continuously, unselfconsciously (as it was only me there): big, fat, salty tears, rich with lithium, mined from the flats.'

URL Louder Than The Storm

Foraminifera, recorded for 'Museum Remix', Cambridge Museums, broadcast date 23 July 2020


I wrote 'Foraminifera', a flash essay I then recorded, about the Whipple Museum's collection of Charles Elcock's microscope slides for Cambridge Museums' 'Museum Remix' challenge. In the essay, I call for a 'pink-sandy kind of science, one that is creative and queered.'

'Red-shelled forams (Homotrema rubrum) grow on coral reefs off the coast of Bermuda. When they die, they fall to the ocean floor and get crushed up with bits of coral and other shells. Over time, this foram-coral-shell mix washes up onto the shore, resulting in Bermuda’s famous pink-sand beaches. It’s now illegal to take pink sand home. I wonder if Elcock had ever received any red-shelled forams for him to mount back in Ireland. I’ve somehow drifted onto the pink sands of Bermuda, stretched out with a Rum Swizzle in hand, soaking up the rays of the sun.'

Guest Curator Marenka Thompson-Odlum introduces her selection from the submissions to the Museum Remix: Unheard Audio Challenge in July 2020. Listen to her interpretation of my flash essay, 'Foraminifera', at 20:16.

URL    YouTube

Cambridge Museum    SoundCloud

Germination (extract), exhibiting in 'DigitFest 2020', Manchester Histories Festival, 04-05 September

Manchester Histories DigiFest 2020 will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSDPA) 1970. This landmark legislation was pioneered by the late Lord Alf Morris, who subsequently became Britain’s first minister for disabled people. The CSDPA was the first disability rights legislation anywhere in the world and laid the foundations for the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010. This recording is taken from my longer personal essay, 'Germination'. In the extract, I write about how my sensory sensitivities impact my experience of the great outdoors. 

'I had seen flashes of static time and time again over the last few weeks, as I had witnessed entire hillsides recede, taking with them with their millions of tonnes of earth, flora, and fauna. I’m glitching again, I thought to myself, as I stepped across the bright yellow tarmac of the train crossing, back into the village.'

URL DigiFest 

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© Laura Grace Simpkins 2021