The voices of women and girls call to the setting sun in daily incantations, broadcast with audio technology employed for emergency and control, repurposed as a mechanism for public ritual.
Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins), Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Melanie Pappenheim, Elaine Mitchener, Cherise Phillips, and the Wattisham and Honnington Military Wives Choir, and girls from Copleston School, the Roma Choir and South Street Kids under the guidance of folk revivalist Shirley Collins.
Devised by Melbourne based artists Byron J. Scullin, Hannah Fox and Thomas Supple, and part of 14–18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, Clarion Call stands as an ephemeral monument to the aftermath of wars past, present and future. But instead of unifying us in grief, a composition of reimagined melodies provide a moment in time for a community to come together in hope and reflection.
The song in Clarion Call is Shirley Collins’ version of Our Captain Cried All Hands.
Our Captain Cried All Hands – Shirley Collins
Our captain cried all hands, away tomorrow,
Leaving us girls behind in grief and sorrow.
“What makes you go abroad, fighting for strangers
When you could stay at home, and free from dangers?”
“I’d roll you in my arms, my dearest jewel,
So stay at home with me and don’t be cruel.”
She fell up on the floor like one that was dying;
This house was filled with grief, sighing and crying.
“You courted me a while just to deceive me,
Now that you’ve gained my heart you mean to leave me.
For there’s no trust in men, not my own brother,
So girls if you would love, love one each other.”
“The drums are beating loud, the pipes are playing,
I must be on my way, no longer staying.
Dry off those brandy tears and leave off weeping
And happy we shall be at our next meeting.”
Chilean National Museum
Hampstead Old Town Hall