Audio Composition, 2020

Sanko-time is an audio work commissioned by The Line. This site-specific piece was composed to accompany the 20-minute round-trip on the Emirates Air Line cable car from Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks, reflecting on the historical context of the River Thames during the journey across the water. The work is also hosted online, enabling it to be enjoyed from anywhere in the world (listening through headphones provides the best audio experience).

The concept of 'Sanko-time' relates to the Ghanaian Twi word Sankofa, which roughly translates as ‘to go back for what has been left behind’ and alludes to using the past to prepare for the future. This work responds to the historical indelibility of the British Empire across the areas local to The Line. Incorporating oral histories from the Museum of London’s sound collection, field recordings from London and Accra and audio recorded during workshops with primary school children from St Mary Magdalene C of E School in Greenwich, Sanko-time takes the listener through a rich soundscape connected by the Greenwich Meridian.

Threaded with a powerful narrative about the legacy of colonialism, Sanko-time is a hypnotic synthesis of poetry, field recordings, and music, including drum loops by the late Tony Allen (an Afrobeat pioneer who brought together elements of Ghanaian Highlife and Jazz). The work is infused with the sounds and rhythms of Accra and London, including the lapping waves of Jamestown (the fishing harbour in Accra) and the water of the Royal Docks, as well as the street sounds of Accra’s Makola Market. The tides and empires explored in Sanko-time rise and fall to reveal the imprints of histories and the colonial past, in our present.

Sanko-time, commissioned by The Line