Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association team. Image courtesy of Claudette Parry Laws.

Sound Gallery: Atlantic Railton by Ain Bailey

Ain Bailey’s sound work gathers memories and resonances of lost spaces in Brixton, and allows us to hear of the belonging and impact these spaces still hold.

Sound Gallery is a podcast series of artists’ audio commissions which ask us to listen actively and consider how we navigate the world. To coincide with the Serpentine Pavilion 2022, we’re releasing four Sound Gallery commissions which were part of a public listening and events programme at the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Sumayya Vally of Counterspace.

Atlantic Railton is a work by sound artist Ain Bailey, commissioned by Serpentine Civic and Serpentine Education for Listening to the City. This programme drew on Vally’s ideas of the 2021 Pavilion being a ‘holding space’ for many stories of life in London, and engaged with the sonic landscapes of specific neighbourhoods.

Atlantic Railton takes its name from Atlantic Road and Railton Road in Brixton, South London. Home to Black British intellectuals and activists, these were significant locations for movements and groups such as the Black Panthers, Brixton Black Women’s Group, and the 1981 Brixton uprising. Bailey draws on these histories, weaving familial and personal relationships with sites of community organising active between the early 1970s and early 2000s, including Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association, Big Up and Lambeth Women’s Project.

The sound composition is a constellation of field recordings, archival sounds of protest, traditional steel-pan songs played by Matthew Phillip from Mangrove Steel Band, and the voices of Bailey’s collaborators: Sharon Elliott, Claudette Parry, Ego Ahaiwe Sowinksi, and Marc Thompson. Their intimate conversations reflect on the memories, actions and relationships held in sites of community care and resistance. Atlantic Railton is a dedication to people and places which are no longer with us.

Sonic Description

For each of the commissions within Sound Gallery, Serpentine has worked with a sound artist to commission a written sonic description. For Ain Bailey’s Atlantic Railton, Imani Mason Jordan (fka Robinson) has written a text-based translation of the piece. They also performed an original script for Atlantic Railton: LIVE, which you can watch below.

Click the box below to download this as a PDF.

The sonic descriptions are part of ongoing research into how our programme can be more accessible to D/deaf and low hearing audiences. Research is conducted within Serpentine’s Access Working Group.

Atlantic Railton: LIVE

On 11 September 2021, Imani Mason Jordan (fka Robinson), Ain Bailey, and DJ Rabz Lansiquot collaborated on a live event that acted as an extension of Bailey’s Atlantic Railton. Mason Jordan performed a lyrical response to Bailey’s sound work: drawing on transcripts from the commission process; bringing in quotations from figures considering spatial politics, architecture and Black geographies; and shaping a constellation of voices, sounds and music. Following the performance there was a live DJ set by Rabz Lansiquot.

You can watch the full event recording below, and find out more about the live event here.

About Ain Bailey

Ain Bailey is an artist, composer and DJ. She also facilitates workshops considering the role of sound in the formation of identity, and conducts sound workshops with LGBTI+ refugees and asylum seekers. Past exhibitions include The Range at Eastside Projects, Birmingham; RE:Respite at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland, and a solo show at Cubitt Gallery, London And We’ll Always Be A Disco In The Glow Of Love (2019). In 2020 Bailey and Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski were commissioned by Studio Voltaire, London, as part of their Desperate Living programme for which they created both a composition and print entitled Remember To Exhale. Last year, Bailey was commissioned by Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, to create the exhibition Version, and composed Atlantic Railton which was part of the Listening to the City sound installation programme in architect Sumayya Vally’s 2021 Serpentine Pavilion.

About Imani Mason Jordan (fka Robinson)

Imani Mason Jordan (fka Robinson) is an interdisciplinary writer, artist, editor, and independent curator. They are one half of Languid Hands, who were Curatorial Fellows at Cubitt, London until Spring 2022. Imani completed their MA in Forensic Architecture at the Centre for Research Architecture in 2019. As a writer, Imani has been published widely across various magazines and art publications. They are also editor of Talking Drugs — an online platform dedicated to providing critical information on drug policy and harm reduction. Imani has facilitated political education, reading and discussion groups with Abolitionist Futures and Black Abolitionist. Their research-led practice combines performance, oration, collaboration, poetry, and critical theory, exploring themes of black geographies, the afterlives of transatlantic slavery, abolition, radical resistance, and the politics of safety.

Sound Work Credits

Ain Bailey’s Atlantic Railton, 2021 was commissioned by Serpentine Civic Projects for Sound Gallery and Listening to the City. It was curated by Amal Khalaf, Elizabeth Graham and Layla Gatens, and was produced by Holly Shuttleworth.

Contributions from Sharon Elliott, Claudette Parry, Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Marc Thompson and Matthew Phillips, Mangrove Steel Band.

2021 Serpentine Pavilion sound commissions were supported by L-Acoustics Creations and presented in L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound.

Event + Film Credits

Ain Bailey and Imani Mason Jordan (fka Robinson), Atlantic Railton: LIVE, 2021, was commissioned by Serpentine Civic Projects for Listening to the City. It was curated by Amal Khalaf, Elizabeth Graham, Layla Gatens and was produced by Holly Shuttleworth.

Katarzyna Perlak was the director of photography and editor of the event film, which was filmed by Hicham and Katarzyna Perlak, and photographed by Ingrid Pollard. BSL interpretation by Clifton Deaf Services.

Ain Bailey and Imani Mason Jordan at Atlantic Railton: LIVE, 2021. Photograph by Ingrid Pollard.


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