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Welcome to the acoustic allotment

The acoustic allotment was planned as a collaboration in sound and words between Julia Schauerman, an improviser, electroacoustic composer and keen collaborator, and Joanna Dobson, a writer. Then a novel coronavirus got involved too.

When the two women met quite by chance in late 2019, Jo was studying for a PhD in creative writing, focusing her work on her allotment in south-west Sheffield. She had always thought of the allotment as a co-creator in this project, a vibrant, and transformative place that had gifted her a writing voice after many years of silence.

Julia had just started an MA in composition, and both women were keen to see what would happen if Julia’s skills as an electroacoustic composer were brought into relationship with Jo’s writing and with the allotment.

Then just as the project had begun to take shape, the UK Government imposed strict quarantine rules to slow the spread of Covid-19. Jo and Julia were no longer able to meet up to develop their work. Instead, Julia began visiting the allotment when Jo was not working there, and posting recordings on her Soundcloud.

The blog posts on this site are Jo’s response to those recordings, to time spent on the allotment, and to the unpredictable, all-pervasive effects of the virus. Taking the form of a series of letters to Julia, it is an ongoing conversation, an experiment in storytelling, an assemblage of words, images and sounds brought together at a time of great uncertainty.

I believe I must tell stories as if the world were a living, single entity, constantly forming before our eyes, and as if we were a small and at the same time powerful part of it. 

Olga Tokarczuk