STUDIO 1824 | Chris Dooks

STUDIO 1824 by the sound artist Chris Dooks was one of three double-sited exhibitions commissioned and curated by Timespan youth arts group and marking the end of the two-year youth arts project OURS led by Ruth Macdougall. Following an open call, Chris was selected to make work in and around Helmsdale’s Ice House.

STUDIO 1824 included a live electronic concert, community workshops and a gallery exhibition featuring an enormous salmon of knowledge, patrolling the ice house and nearby Gartymore.

In his own words:

“I was asked by Ruth MacDougall and the ‘ours’ group of young Helmies, to answer this call and felt a big responsibility to do something that was both local and accessible. I fell so much in love with the project, that we expanded a week’s residency to several weeks, building a project which encompassed a site-specific sound performance (“SCALES”), an exhibition (“1824 SECONDS”) and an online project; a netlabel (“STUDIO 1824”). We also held some classes in digital sound composition and creative writing led by my wife, Eleanor Thom. With the help of The School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh and the research skills of Ellie, we managed to uncover extremely rare sound recordings of local fisherman Neil MacKay and wife recorded many years ago by linguisticians from Edinburgh University. These had never been heard by Neil’s family, some of whom still live in Helmsdale. It was down to the family to give me permission to make sound works from these beautiful recordings, which were delicate, emotional and moving. It involved rare east Sutherland Gaelic and I needed a lot of help from the online and local community to put these recordings together. The resulting album “1824 Seconds” (which is the age of the icehouse, built in 1824) is one of my favourite projects I have ever worked on. My time in Helmsdale was extremely memorable and genuinely special and since leaving the town, I wanted nothing more than to come back.”

The download of the album is free and can be sourced here
Alternatively, if you want only to stream the album you can do so here


Chris Dooks was known for directing television documentaries in the late
1990s, most notably a South Bank Show on sound artist Scanner, but Dooks
left the world of broadcast to pursue his own art career in 1999 when he was
selected to show video art works at The Millennium Experience (part of the
Dome). Site specific work soon followed at North Tyneside Arts, Isis Arts in
Newcastle and a large scale ‘Year of The Artist’ residency at The Northern
Film and Television Archive in Newcastle and Middlesbrough. After signing a
record deal with French electronica label bip-hop, Chris split his time
making visual art projects in residencies and composing music, often online
with artists such as Frank Bretschneider (Raster-Noton) and with multimedia
artist Janek Schaefer. Dooks’s music was being regularly played on BBC Radio
Three and his debut album ‘Social Electrics’ – made in a pre-broadband
internet, sold well, prompting a sequel. Being able to have more than one
identity gave Dooks a flexibility being able to ship-shape between his
lens-based media practice (film, video and photography) music, and several
live art projects which mixed psychogeography, tourism and themes of illness
and isolation (Dooks has battled with M.E. for several years). Chris is
married to the author Eleanor Thom and they have a one year old son, Ivor