Unveiling the Gorge

‘Unveiling the Gorge’, started out as a photographic study of the landscape of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site but soon grew into a transmedia research project which explored the synergy between song and image.

Pathway in a small village


Nathan Tromans

Research background 

Making reference to existing landscape images and literary references, the photographs of the gorge explore the relationship between the landscape and the layers of narratives, historic and otherwise, which have been revealed through various periods, from the birth of the industrial revolution, to the development of the landscape as cultural heritage.

Ideas of place and self and related narratives tied up in the landscape have also inspired poetic text and song, alongside the photographs.

This was developed further, by exploring ways of finding synergy between the photographs and the songs.  Funding was though the Faculty Research Investment Scheme and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.  Their archive was a valuable resource both in terms of the historical texts and images, which were also embedded in the work.

The opportunity to put on a multi-media performance of songs and projected images, has given an opportunity to reveal how extra meaning can be explored in the intersection between song and image.  This is revealed by the work, but also through the audience reaction to it.

Research aims 

To explore how performance practice, combining photographic images and songs by the same author can create new meaning.  To understand if a song and a photograph, brought together in a performance can become one thing, or something different, where the photograph is changed by the song and the song changed by the photograph.

To enable further development of synergy between photographic practice and song-writing and performance. To contribute to the debate around trans-media arts and the changes and transformation of creative practice through collaboration and interdisciplinary work.

Research methods 

The research was carried out through the composition of a song cycle, inspired by the landscape and then performed in front of an audience, accompanied by large projected sequences of still images.  The performance was entitled ‘The Trail of Thomas Love’, which referenced my ancestor who was a miner in Ironbridge during the Industrial Revolution.  This enabled a further dimension to be explored, relating to the sense of self in the landscape.

Research outcomes 

Reflecting on the work, the performance and the reaction from the audience, it is clear that there is potential for new meaning to be explored communicated and understood through the intersection of song and image in a performance context.  This has prompted new creative processes, where personal history, archive materials and interdisciplinary practice; songs and photographs are combined in to a single creative work, transforming my practice and communication through performance.

Further reading