Songsmith (Fragile Homes)

Interactive sound sculptures
Editioned work

Songsmith is a trade mark of Jenna Burchell

Click below to see videos of artworks from
the Songsmith (Fragile Homes) collection: 

1. Tortoise Shell

2. Gemsbok
Songsmith (n.)(v.phr.)
A golden instrument that repairs or transforms an object or place in order to reveal an aural narrative.

The artist Jenna Burchell shaped the word ‘songsmith’ to encapsulate a process within her practice. By embedding songsmith into objects or places, the artist creates sound responsive archives that sing about people, places and events within the vicissitudes of time. These archives are part of Burchell’s continued fascination with how technology can be incorporated into the natural world so as to explore and preserve ephemeral landscapes of experience and memory.
Burchell’s Songsmith (Fragile Homes) collection is part of this greater Songsmith project. This collection consists of bones and remains that Burchell encounters during her various expeditions into ancient landscapes such as the Cradle of Humankind and The Great Karoo. She finds herself drawn to these vessels that once contained life; drawn to the visible trauma of the bone. Burchell’s delicate and ritual manner of embedding a songsmith into these fractures transforms the remains into contemplative memorials. Their song, which is an in situ recording of the grounds electromagnetism, comes from Burchell’s pallet of sound creation that relates to landscape in her work.  She uses it here, as an ode to land’s delicate entanglement with life and death.



Tortoise Shell
Songsmith (Fragile Homes)
41 x 41 x 40 cm

M1, marble dust, electroplating, speaker, circuit
Edition of 4

This skeleton of an Angulate Tortoise was collected, documented and archived during Burchells residency at Nirox Sculpture Park in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, during 2016. The Angulate Tortoise is native to Southern Africa. Although not endangered, it is on a CITES restriction list for importing and exporting alongside whale bone and ivory. This is because with improper monitoring it can move into the endangered category. In respect of this, the artwork is made of replica bone that the artist moulded from the original skeleton. There are 4 editions of the replica. The original skeleton is kept in reserve. Other works that came from this expedition were the rocks from the Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) collection. 
Songsmith (Fragile Homes)
120 x 25 x 25 cm

M1, marble dust, electroplating, speaker, circuit
Edition of 4

The Gemsbok, also know as an Oryx, is a beautiful creature native to the arid regions of South Africa. This skull was collected during Burchell's 2017 expedition into The Great Karoo, South Africa. At the time Burchell had set up base in the Rietfontein Nature Reserve, nearby Matjiesfontein, to continue her work on Songsmith (The Great Karoo). This gemsbok was known in the area for having only a single horn but it had not been seen in a long time. While Burchell was walking in the reserve she encountered its bleached remains and asked the farm owners if she could work with the skull to create an artwork. 


Songsmith (Bangor City),  installation | 2015
Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) collection | 2016 - 2017
Songsmith (Yorkshire Sculpture Park) installation | 2017
Songsmith (The Great Karoo) collection | 2017 -2018
Songsmith (Fragile Homes),  collection | 2018 - 
Songsmith (Vredefort Dome),  collection | upcoming