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Scottish National Gallery soundwalk, May 2009

We* wanted to create a soundwalk through the Old Town, narrated by interviews with people working in various jobs across central Edinburgh. We soon, however, saw this as a long-term project, after numerous refusals from potential interviewees.
After we received the cold shoulder to do an interview with the proprietors of the seasonally blind Christmas Shop, we headed to Oxgangs, a 1950s suburb to the city’s southwest. The area has some striking signage and architecture, particularly the bell tower of St. John’s church.

We took the number 4 bus back in to the city centre, and walked east. Posters for a Scottish photography retrospective in the Scottish National Gallery drew us in. The exhibit was strong, but it was small, so we walked around the permanent collection. As we walked through the rooms among the paintings and marble busts, we got on to the topic of gallery audio tours. How fun would it be to make our own? The idea started to unfurl and was built over repeat trips.

We realized there was a wealth of re-interpretations to be made, as we started to assign songs and other texts that seemed to fit, however esoterically, with what we were seeing. We also paid attention to the experience of being in the gallery, especially the sounds of each room.

The Scottish National Gallery soundwalk is an audio tour played out in real time that can be listened to anywhere (try it out in your local gallery).

Ground floor plan with tour stopping points

Upper floor plan with tour stopping points

Lower floor plan with tour stopping points


*Concept: Jonathan Prior and Dai Jones
Recording and editing: Jonathan Prior
Narration: Caroline Williams