Mike Collier

Prof Mike Collier is a lecturer, writer, curator and artist based at the University of Sunderland. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. Much of his work is collaborative, working with musicians, sound artists and printmakers. His work pays close attention to the environment and is usually place-specific. Most recently, Mike has examined the nature of local soundscapes, exploring ways of showing how we might better understand our complex relationship to a more-than-human world, enabling us to value the whole world (birds, plants, animals, peoples etc.) as a living ecology of cultural differences.

Mike’s most recent work examines, visually and sonically, the way that individual birds from different species interact ‘culturally’ in the dawn chorus, and re-imagines this exploration of avian cultural diversity in vision and sound.  In 2010 Mike co-founded WALK (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge), a research centre at the University of Sunderland which looks at the way we creatively engage with the world as we walk through it. Mike has shown in the UK and abroad and his work is in a number of public and private collections.


The Burring Dor Hawk (2018)
Unison pastel, manipulated sonogram and digital print on 310gsm handmade paper, 100 x 100 cm
Produced in collaboration with Geoff Sample and EYELEVEL Creative
The Nightjar, called ‘The Burring Dor Hawk’ by Wordsworth, has many superstitious colloquial names including the Corpse Bird or Lich (corpse) Fowl and Gabble Ratchet (a name for the Gabriel Hounds of the Wild Hunt. In Nidderdale (Yorkshire) there is folk legend that the souls of dead unbaptized children go into nightjars. As Kate Rigby says in her foreword for this book, ‘perception of birds among the Kalinia people as guides, teachers and mediators between the human and spirit realms reminded me that within the archives of Western culture too we might find examples of birds in the company of seers’.
This work was made in collaboration with ANNA SVENSDOTTER who produce a companion sound piece called Nattskred – Dew Fall Hawk (2018). The title Nattskred refers to two of the many Swedish and English dialectal names for the Nightjar. This soundscape was inspired by Swedish and English dialectal names for the Nightjar, as well as an old Swedish folk story about a woman who loved spinning so much that she did this on Sundays as well as on weekdays. As a result, she was turned into a Nightjar – destined to spin forever. You can find this on Anna’s SoundCloud page.

The Song of the Wren (2017)
Digital print on 310gsm handmade paper, 100 x 100 cm 
Produced in collaboration with EYELEVEL Creative

Full Dawn Chorus, print # 10 (2018)
Digital print on 310 gsm Marrutt fine art paper, 50 x 50 cm
Produced in collaboration with Charrington Editions and Geoff Sample.
Between 4.30 and 5 am the full chorus of sixteen birds in our dawn chorus approaches cacophony—a sense of ordered chaos. ‘Is this just a mass of random polyphony like the sound of a milling crowd, or might there be some interactive relationship more suggestive of a human choir? The result of this repetition of verses, answering motifs, referencing phrases is rather like looping in music; an interwoven, rolling complexity of cyclical themes and, with the physical spacing of different males, often generating a soft echoing effect into the distance. It’s rather similar to some of the minimalist pieces by Terry Riley, Philip Glass or Steve Reich—or some sequenced electronic music,’ says Geoff Sample.

A Dawn Chorus: Out of the Darkness (2020),
Silkscreen on 410 gsm Somerset paper, 50 x 50 cm
Here we have Redstart, Robin and Blackbird with memories of Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chiffchaff experienced in the vibrations of the cool, dark, early morning air.  
Produced in collaboration with Charrington Editions, Bennett Hogg and Geoff Sample

The Dawn Chorus Neumatic Notation No. 1 (2018) 
Digital print on 310 gsm Marrutt fine art paper, 50 x 50 cm
Produced in collaboration with Charrington Editions, Bennett Hogg and Geoff Sample

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s