SOUNDSCAPES | London, National Gallery

The National Gallery have really cracked the whole cross-artform thing. In Soundscapes, six musicians were asked to create sound installations as responses to paintings from the gallery’s collection and the result is really rather sumptuous.

In the opening space, sound-collector Chris Watson’s multi-channel sound installation brings the banks and cool icy lake of Lake Keitele to life — wind whipping through the branches, birds zipping through the wood. The following spaces reveal installations and artwork pairings as varied as Nico Muhly’s fractal Long Phrases for the Wilton Diptych through to Gabriel Yared’s Les Grandes Baigneuses, catapulting the viewer into some dreamy moment in time in a French pool-side clearing.

Aside from the quality of sound and vision there were two other aspects of the exhibit that were particularly pleasing. Firstly, the superbly curated space — the level of soundproofing created without any physical impediments to the flow of the rooms is a magnificent achievement. Secondly, the knowledge and friendly demeanour of the gallery wardens elucidated the exhibit with quite marvellous understanding and warmth, building on the film shown at the start of the installation featuring interviews with each of the artists.

Full marks, then. This is a project that delivers on concept, creativity and curation. Moreover, it is a wonderful blend of the arts. Who else is presenting Hans Holbein, Paul Cézanne and Jamie xx in the space of six rooms?

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