Observers' Walks

Tris Vonna Michell

Tris Vonna-Michell
The Artist and The Gravedigger: After D.O. Hill

Tris Vonna-Michell is an artist who has gained international recognition for his performances, story-telling actions and photo-installations. His work often features his own voice in live performance or as a narrated soundtrack within an installation.

The Artist and the Gravedigger: after D.O. Hill draws on the history of two significant buildings on Calton Hill – St Andrew’s House and Rock House. Built on the site of the old Calton Jail, St Andrew’s House is the headquarters of the Scottish Government. Rock House is now a residential property but was the first photography studio in Scotland, established by Robert Adamson who worked there with pioneering calotype photographer David Octavius Hill. The title of this work was inspired by a Hill and Adamson photographic series made in the in the mid-19th century, depicting subjects in Greyfriars’ cemetery, in which, one of the photographic plates is labelled ‘The Artist and the Gravedigger.

Central to The Artist and the Gravedigger: after D.O. Hill is a tension between lived experience and historical accounts. The work is comprised of layered audio, weaving together a recorded walking tour of St Andrew’s House with extracts performed by the artist from Eduardo Cadava ́s book Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History (1998); a meditation on philosopher and theorist Walter Benjamin’s use of the language of photography to inform his conception of history.

See the map to find the three recommended listening points for The Artist and the Gravedigger: after D.O. Hill, which are located by Nelsons Monument, Dugald Stewart Monument and on Calton Hill Road.

Tris Vonna-Michell is a multi-media artist based in London and Stockholm. His work explores performance and installation through the layering of narratives. Recent works include: No more racing in circles – just pacing within lines of a rectangle (2021); Walking Sonic Texts – Sound Poetry and Movement In Space, Jan Mot, Brussels (2020); Vessel: Yorktown Express, ARCO Mardrid, (2020), Material Longevities, ARCO Madrid, Spain (2017); Punctuations & Perforations, La Verrière, Brussels (2017) and Register, T293, Rome (2016).

The Artist and the Gravedigger: after D.O. Hill is funded by Outset Scotland.

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