The Sensing Nature exhibition has launched this week, at Babylon Gallery, Ely, which includes a collaboration with sight loss charities CamSight and Vision Norfolk, titled, ‘The Lantern Men’. 

Inspired by the folklore of the Lantern Men – a mysterious white light that hovers over the fenland at night, luring wanderers into the reed beds – this sound piece is the culmination of a six-month collaboration between Composer Tom Adams and participants from the CamSight and Vision Norfolk community.

Along with the RNIB, Ely Museum and Wicken Fen National Trust, the six-month project has involved walking tours across the Fens, boat trips and museum visits, all culminating into an audio sound piece and installation, being showcased until 24th March, at Babylon Gallery, Ely.

Sight loss charities CamSight and Vision Norfolk service users have been instrumental in the project, which records their stories and memories of nature, along with anecdotes about their sight loss journey.

Savvy Vadamoottoo, CamSight service user, who took part in the workshops, said: “I’ve been supported by CamSight for a number of years now, and this really has been a wonderful project to be involved with. We have been taken on a journey to explore what nature and our senses mean to us and been given the opportunity to share some of our sight loss stories in a special and unique backdrop of the Fens. The boat trip through Wicken Fen, was a particular highlight.  And as a group we have really had a special bond and made some lovely friendships which I am truly grateful for.”

The final soundpiece is titled 'The Lantern Men' Tom Adams has produced the accompaniment by executing contributors’ ideas, to produce an immersive experience at the Babylon Gallery. 

Lucy Wheeler, Project Coordinator for the programme, said: “It has been such a pleasure to work in collaboration with CamSight and Vision Norfolk on this project. This soundpiece, made by the extraordinary talent of Composer Tom Adams, is equally about the talent of the participants, an extraordinary group of people who have brought such energy, ideas and experience to create a remarkable new artwork. Through their creativity, we hear fresh stories about the significance of the Fenland landscape.”

Visitors to the gallery can sit in the Birdhide, created specifically for the listening experience, so they can take in the sound piece and listen to the charities service user’s and participants’ contributions. 

Together they have explored Wicken Fen by boat and on foot, handled museum objects at Ely Museum, and developed songs, sonic meditations and a whistling choir in response to their experiences.

The Lantern Men intersects the tale of the untimely death of wherryman Joseph Bexfield with sonic sounds, personal reflections and field recordings made during the project. The piece has been made using binaural technology, so is best listened to with headphones. 

Exhibition details:

 Date and Time: Tuesday to Sunday 12-4pm until 24th March

 Venue: Babylon Arts Gallery, Babylon Bridge , Waterside, Ely CB7 4AL  

If you can’t visit the exhibition in person you can download the audio on Spotify and Apple Music.



Photo Descriptions: 

  1. Fiona with working assistance dog Molly, sit on the boat at Wicken Fen, Fiona is looking ahead towards the sky and is smiling.
  2. 14 people pose for a group photo – they are all the participants who took part in the project, a mixture of women and men, one lady is holding a white cane and another is holding her assistant dog. They stand in front of a wooden structure which is the Birdhide as part of the exhibition at Babylon Arts Gallery.
  3.  A lady looks downwards thoughtfully listening to headphones. The headphones are lit up with red lights and she focussed on the sounds. It is a close up image and she wears a pretty green scarf and glasses.