New Project: ‘Us, A Gunby Estate Domesday’, with Michael Sanders

We are delighted to have received funding from the National Lottery via Arts Council England for our latest collaborative project, ‘Us, A Gunby Estate Domesday’, with Michael Sanders and the National Trust at Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens.

During spring and summer 2017 artist Michael Sanders, supported by CommonAs, will work with the members of 28 households living in tenanted properties in the grounds of Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens, to create a modern day ‘Domesday’, or landscape survey, of the estate, revealing the untold stories of the estate cottages, working farms, park and woodland. Research for the project will include gathering audio testimony from tenants and creating photographic portraits. It will culminate in an installation and exhibition in the Orchard Gallery at Gunby Hall.

Us, A Gunby Estate Domesday
© Michael Sanders

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A Ballad for Southwell, what participants said:

We have had some lovely feedback on our latest project ‘A Ballad for Southwell’ with Chris T-T’s at The Workhouse, Southwell. Here’s what the participants had to say:

For me it has been a great experience. I have been a reseracher here for 19 years. It is easy to get stuck in a rut. This project has given me new insights into how some of the research can be used in new ways. The research I have done over the last 2 years has been used in a variety of new ways – in the songs of Chris T-T, some of the new technologies that have been trialled in recent months at the Workhouse, includng being involved in recording some of the songs, and discussing song structure with Chis. It has been good to work with him and CommonAs – Lesley & Darren. They have been inspiring to us and I think we have been a valuable source for them. – Workhouse Volunteer

I thought it was brilliant. – National Trust Staff Member    Read More

A Ballad for Southwell works on Soundcloud

We are delighted to share the first of Chris T-T’s final works produced for his Creative Fellowship at The Workhouse, Southwell, as part of the project ‘ A Ballad for Southwell’.  The project has been initiated and co-ordinated by CommonAs in partnership with the National Trust and supported by lottery funding from Arts Council England.  We hope you enjoy the works!

Chris T-T Live at The Workhouse

On 14 October Chris T-T performed the completed works from his Creative Fellowship live in the historic Committee Room of the Workhouse, Southwell.  He sang 13 songs created during the fellowship, several with lyrics co-written by volunteers and staff from the Workhouse.  The works included songs based on the stories of past residents at the Workhouse, researched by volunteers, others inspired by the testimony of those remembering the property in the the twentieth century, before it closed, and some exploring the contemporary relevance on the site.

Here are a couple of excerpts – Chris’s opening song ‘Oakum part 1’ sung a cappella, and ‘Knock it Down Tomorrow’, referring to comments made in aural history testimonies held in the archive at The Workhouse.



Heritage Open Day 2016 at The Workouse, Southwell

We had a brilliant day at The Workhouse, Southwell, on Saturday, when Chris T-T performed works in progress from the project, A Ballad for Southwell, for Heritage Open Day.  A huge thanks go out to Chris T-T and all The Workhouse staff and volunteers for making it happen. Here are a couple of video snippets from the day.


FIRST performance ‘A Ballad for Southwell’ by Chris T-T

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As part of Heritage Open Day 2016, Chris T-T will be sharing publicly for the first time works created for the project ‘A Ballad for Southwell’. The works have been created in collaboration with volunteers and staff from The Workhouse, Southwell, and will performed in the former infirmary of this Victorian Workhouse, now operated by The National Trust. The project is coordinated by curatorial collective, CommonAs in partnership with The Workhouse, Southwell.

Chris will perform three live sets as follows:

  • 11am in the Committee Room in the main Workhouse building, (performed on the original harmonium for this set only).
  • Repeated 2pm & 3pm in the former Workhouse Infirmary, Firbeck House.

There is no need to book in advance, but space will be tight, so if you want to be sure to hear Chris perform we advise you get there early.

This will also be a rare chance to see inside the infirmary building, Firbeck House, not normally open to the public.

Heritage Open Day is free and open to all. There will be lots of other exciting stuff happening throughout the day at The Workhouse. For full details check their What’s on page.

‘A Ballad for Southwell’ is supported by lottery funding from Arts Council England and coordinated by CommonAs with The Workhouse Southwell. It is part of the Re-imaging The Workhouse programme.

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Work in Progess – A Ballad for Southwell

At the  beginning of July we shot some video footage of Chris T-T at The Workhouse, Southwell, as he played through work in progress for A Ballad of Southwell and we began creating audio recordings for The Workhouse’s new Audio Visitor Guide, to be launched at the end of the  month.  Chris performed the works on the beautiful harmonium in the Workhouse Committee room and on his guitar in the former Workhouse Infirmary building, Firbeck House, to great acoustic effect.





Chris T-T at the Challenging Histories Conference

In June we attended the Re-imaging Challenging Histories Conference in Cardiff. Jim Grevatte and Sam Ball from The workhouse gave a presentation on the Re-imaging The Workhouse project, of which Chris T-T’s residency, ‘A Ballad for Southwell’, organised by CommonAs is part.  Following their presentation Chris T-T spoke about his research and working with volunteers, and performed some works in progress to conference delegates.

June 2016

 A Ballad for Southwell – Chris T-T at The Workhouse

If you would like to meet Chris T-T, our Creative Fellow at The Workhouse, Southwell, you can pop along and meet him on the following days in summer. He’ll be on site during day and you’ll find him in the cafe at lunchtime.

Thursday 16th, Friday 17th June, Saturday 18th, 11am – 1pm

Thursday 7th, Friday 8th & Saturday 9th, 11am – 4pm
Thurs 21st, Friday 22nd & Saturday 23rd, 11am – 4pm

Thursday 4th, Friday 5th, Saturday 6th, 11am – 4pm
Friday 12th & Saturday 13th, 11am – 4pm

Open Heritage Day – FREE ADMISSION
Sat 10 Sept
Chris T-T will be giving a special performance with volunteers from The Workhouse of the music created during project times tbc

Museum at Night
Fri Oct 28 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Chris T-T will give a short closing performance of music from the project as part of Museum at Night after-hours storytelling evening.
For more details of what he will be up to you can follow his blog:


May 2016

Meet The Workhouse’s Creative Fellow 2016

Our National Trust Creative Fellow, Chris T-T, will be back at The Workhouse, Southwell from Thursday 16 – Saturday 18 June, developing ideas for A Ballad for Southwell.

Each morning from 11am – 1pm he will be hosting drop-in workshops exploring simple songwriting techniques for turning themes and stories from the Workhouse into verse – all welcome, just pop in.

Alongside Chris’s sessions professional illustrator, Darren Alexander, will be hosting drop-in sessions to create imagery to be used on an illustrated ‘Ballad Sheet’ to accompany Chris T-T’s musical work.

Chris will also be in the cafe at lunch time, if you want to just pop in and have a chat.

Admission to the Workhouse is free to National Trust members. Details for entrance for non-members can be found on their website

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May 2016

Workhouse Echoes:
Musician Chris T-T in conversation with Mick Ryan at The Gate to Southwell Festival

We are delighted to announce that Chris T-T, our Creative Fellow with The Workhouse, Southwell, will be speaking about the project at The Gate to Southwell Festival on Friday 10 June at 2pm.

The historically significant Workhouse at Southwell is rich with powerful human stories. Chris T-T is creating a series of contemporary musical works, commissioned by CommonAs, in partnership with The National Trust, it’s volunteers and visitors. Hear Chris discuss his experience of transforming these stories into song with Mick Ryan, creator of the folk opera, A Pauper’s Path, commissioned by the Festival and the National Trust in 2011.
Day or weekend tickets for the Festival can be purchased via the Gate to Southwell Festival website – where you can also see the whole festival line up.

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March 2016

The project blog from Chris T-T, lead artist for our ‘Ballad for Southwell’ Arts Council supported project in partnership withe The National Trust at The Workhouse, Southwell, is now live. Chris will be posting regular updates as the project progesses –

The project is part of the National Trust’s Re-imagining The Workhouse programme and is devised and curated by CommonAs.

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February 2016

We are delighted to have been awarded funding from Arts Council England, Grants for the Arts, to realise A Ballad for Southwell. A project working in partnership with musician Chris T-T and The National Trust at The Workhouse, Southwell, to produce a contemporary musical work responding to this unique heritage site, and engaging new audiences in its fascinating history and contemporary context. CommonAs are coordinating the project working with Chris T-T, who will collaborate with site volunteers, visitors and wider community groups to produce an original creative audio work. The finished piece will be shared via live performance, digital download, an illustrated ballad sheet and on the Workhouse audio visitor guide.

Work on the project will commence in spring 2016, with the pubic performance and launch of the work produced in autumn 2016.

The project forms part of the National Trust’s, ‘Re-imagining The Workhouse‘ programme

For updates please check Chris’ project blog



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