Maria Fusco’s Master Rock from inside a Scottish mountain, presented with BBC Radio 4

Maria Fusco’s Master Rock from inside a Scottish mountain, presented with BBC Radio 4


Men work on the tailrace tunnel for Cruachan Power Station, 1963. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of The Herald & Times Group.

October 17, 2015

Master Rock 
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4
Saturday 17 October, 2015, 10:15pm
Monday 19 October, 2015, 2:15pm
and then available to listen online

Master Rock is a new audio work, conceived and written by Maria Fusco and recorded live inside Cruachan Power Station, sited deep inside one of the highest peaks on the West coast of Scotland. Composed of three voices and the sound of the mountain played live by French composer Olivier Pasquet, Master Rock tells the story of the power station’s construction and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 17 and 19 October.

Created through brutal blasting procedures and pioneering technologies, Cruachan Power Station was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 15 October 1965. Power created by the reversible pumped storage hydro scheme continues to flow into the National Grid today.

Since winning a commission from Artangel and BBC Radio 4, Fusco has immersed herself in the history of this extraordinary site, researching the power station’s own archive, talking with the people involved in its creation 50 years ago and making field writings onsite.

Played by actor Lalor Roddy, one of the voices in Master Rock, is a tunnel tiger—the Irish explosive experts who hollowed out the mountain so that the power station could be built one mile beneath the newly dammed Cruachan reservoir above Loch Awe. Another is the ancient obdurate granite itself: the 450 million year old hard rock of Ben Cruachan, read by Ceylan Hay. The third voice is the unknown artist Elizabeth Falconer, played by poet Denise Riley. Falconer made the huge mural inside the turbine hall of the power station, a public artwork hidden inside a mountain.

Performed live within the cavernous interior of the mountain, Fusco has created a powerful physical narrative that fuses geology, mythology and technology.   

Maria Fusco, a Belfast-born writer based in Scotland, is a Reader at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. Fusco writes fiction and criticism; her work is translated into eight languages. Her recent solo-authored books include With A Bao A Qu Reading When Attitudes Become Form (Los Angeles/Vancouver: New Documents, 2013); GONDA (Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press, 2012), commissioned by Film London; and The Mechanical Copula, a collection of short stories (Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press, 2011). She is the founder/editor of The Happy Hypocrite, a biannual journal for experimental writing and was Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2013, she was named one of Canongate’s “Future 40 Young Writers.”

Cruachan Power Station is a reversible pumped-storage hydroelectric power station in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, managed by ScottishPower. The turbine hall is located inside Ben Cruachan mountain, and the scheme takes water between Cruachan Reservoir to Loch Awe, a height difference of 396 metres. It is one of only four pumped storage power stations in the UK.

Construction began in 1959 and Cruachan Power Station was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 15 October 1965. At the peak of the construction, there were around 4,000 people working on the project. 36 men died in the construction of the power station and dam.

Artangel presents extraordinary art by outstanding contemporary artists in unexpected spaces. Over the past three decades, audiences have encountered Artangel projects in a wide range of different sites and situations across Britain from film and video to sculpture and sound installation. Artangel has generated some of the most talked-about art of recent times, including projects with Clio Barnard, Jeremy Deller, Roger Hiorns, Michael Landy, Steve McQueen, Rachel Whiteread and, most recently, Ryoji Ikeda and PJ Harvey. 
BBC Radio 4 is committed to providing comprehensive arts programming of the highest quality through regular strands such as Front Row, Open Book and Poetry Please, and creative partnerships with organisations such as Artangel, the British Museum and the RIBA.

Maria Fusco’s Master Rock is part of the BBC’s ongoing commitment to Arts programming. The BBC aims to provide the broadest range and depth of music and arts programmes across television, radio and online including landmark seasons in 2015 planned on dance, film, theatre and poetry. 

Artangel and BBC Radio 4 present Maria Fusco’s Master Rock from inside a Scottish mountain
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October 17, 2015

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