The Wire

The world's greatest print and online music magazine. Independent since 1982

In Writing

Ruth Ewan's Portal

May 2012

Find out about artist Ruth Ewan's top picks of the web. Ewan's work is featured in The Wire 340 in an article by Agata Pyzik.

Danish Music Museum, Copenhagen

Ruth Ewan - Danish Instruments Museum

Violino Arpa / Amoeba Shaped Violin, collection of the Danish Music Museum, Copenhagen This museum and library based in Copenhagen has the most extraordinary and beautiful collection of instruments, from masses of plastic toy whistles to prehistoric globular flutes and an amoeba shaped violin. It was also through their library I was introduced to the recordings of Cajsa Lund, a Swedish music archeologist, who I've invited to join me on a new project.

Working Class Movement Library, Salford

Ruth Ewan - Working Class Movement Library
Socialist Sunday School banner, May Day, Glasgow, 1964, courtesy of Vina and Eric Barr from Ewan's
The Glasgow Schools project I first came across Socialist Sunday Schools at the WCML in Salford. Seven years later this led to a project on the Schools in Glasgow. This is a remarkable collection from the 1760s to the present day, including books, objects and recordings charting Working Class struggles past and present. Their political mug collection is a thing of beauty and their staff are welcoming fountains of knowledge.

Museo de instrumentos musicales de Bolivia, La Paz

Ruth Ewan - Bolivian Museum
Entrance to the museum, photographed by Ruth Ewan, 2009
I took part in a residency in Bolivia in summer 2009. I had an idea for a project (that never happened) which used this symbol as a starting point. Local folklore states that when a charango (an Andean lute) is left by water overnight, sirenas (mermaids) will come out of the water and tune the charango to a perfect pitch. Although this museum doesn't have its own website I did find a short video about it on YouTube. Their collection of instruments are strange and exciting. Many are unique and self made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles and tins of spam.

The Women's Library, London Ruth Ewan - Womens Library Badge design made by a pupil from St Pauls Way School during Ewan's Dreadnoughts project, 2010 Fantastic library, collections and exhibitions. I took a group of twelve year old boys here a few years back and one of them asked why there wasn't a man's library. The slogan and the image was put together by a young man following our trip.

The Tenement Museum, New York Ruth Ewan - Tenement Museum
Census record showing Cosimo and Nastasia Pacitti, 1901 (click on image to enlarge) This image shows my great grandparents on the 1901 census. There were Italian immigrants to Scotland, upon arrival in Glasgow they earned money by playing accordion on the street. The Tenement Museum in New York makes me want to start a museum. There should be one of these in every city, celebrating immigration without romanticising it.

The National Archives, Kew

Ruth Ewan - National Archives
Ewan MacColl's Badge Collection, from Ruth Ewan's
Did you kiss the foot that kicked you? project, 2007 In 2006 files stating that the folk singer Ewan MacColl had been deemed a "dangerously creative activist" were released through the National Archives. It was this release that inspired my project Did You Kiss The Foot That Kicked You? Many of The National Archive files are available online but you can also visit there in person. Secret material is regularly declassified and made available for viewing. I'm personally looking forward to the release of Ewan MacColl's post-1955 MI5 file due for declassification in 2015.

Leave a comment

Pseudonyms welcome.

Used to link to you.