Fay Hield

Fay makes new music from archival sources, weaving the old into new words and sounds that resonate with the people and places she encounters. She has toured and recorded with various BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning projects, including curating The Full English Band and her own group, The Hurricane Party; and she's recorded two albums with the a cappella folk quartet The Witches of Elswick. Her solo albums — Looking Glass, Orfeo, and Old Adam — have won many accolades and a nomination for the Horizon Award.

Fay also lectures in Ethnomusicology and Music Management at the University of Sheffield. Her research looks at the role folk music plays in the construction of communities, how artists play with traditional materials, and how audiences receive them.

"I am a true believer in the power of fairy stories and the impact their magical, mysterious ideas have on people," she says, "but when we started this project, I wasn’t expecting so much belief in fairies themselves -- some people having seen and talked with them, while others were more sceptical. Whatever their stance, everyone had a position to take and was intrigued by each other’s ideas. The challenge, then, was to find ways to genuinely collaborate between visual, linguistic and sonic art forms rather than simply illustrating or responding to each other’s work, or generating a set of separate items to present alongside each other. It's been exciting to watch the process unfold, creating new work in the 'space between' our different artforms."

Fay's creative work for the project began with a "calling on" song, summoning us into the Otherworld and illuminating the experience of stepping into a state of enchantment.

Following the threads of connection between music, language and the practice of magic, she then reached into history to find an actual 17th century shape-shifting spell. The words of the spell, now set to music, are linked with the "witch hare" stories of folklore, and with the long association of fairy women and hares. What is it about animal-human transformation that still thrills us today...?