Skip links

Those forgotten in Syria

Now that the Protest and Politics project has launched, we’d like to take the time over a series of posts to let some of the individual highlights from the project shine through, and allow artists the time to explain how they went about reimagining the sounds of protest.

We’ll start with one of my favourites, which is Sue Bowerman’s stunning recomposition of a field recording from Newcastle, UK, protesting air strikes in Syria supported by the British government.

Jack Corbett, who made the recording, said:

“This is a protest I recorded around the time Donald Trump launched strikes on Syria in retaliation for chemical weapons attacks on civilians.

“It was recorded at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle city centre. The guitar at the start is a busker who was quite irked that he had to stop playing.”

City version:

Sue Bowerman writes of her piece, titled “Those Forgotten”:

“As a radio documentary producer, I work mostly with authentic stories and I was initially drawn to this recording because of the subjectivity, Syria.

“What I didn’t know would happen was that I would find a piece of writing by a year 4 child who attends my son’s school (School21) (which I saw on his Mother’s Facebook page), in which he shares his personal insights into the Syrian war and how he would like to help.

The piece samples both the protest speech, which contests the US air strikes with excerpts from Panos Booth’s story, set to a hauntingly extraordinary piece of music featuring the Syrian vocalist, Dima Orsho.

“This ‘edited’ piece of music became the auditory backdrop for the reworking. Challenges were the ‘noise’ and foggy ‘auditory’ nature of the original protest recording and weaving in short excerpts from Panos’s writing to sympathetically enhance the original recording. Panos didn’t want to feature his voice, so he agreed that my son, Obi Nwachukwu, a year 2 student at his school, could do so.

“So I took the parts, which highlighted his incredibly insightful understanding of this war and end with his wishes for people to take action, to welcome Syrian refugees into the UK with open arms.

“I was deeply touched by his compassion and generosity and I hope this is conveyed in the piece. The war sounds are taken from original field recordings, recorded in Syria.”

Memory version: