Show Calendar

ACCA Conversations: Mark Murphy, artist, designer and creative

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Continuing from our interviews with various members of Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts team, we speak to Mark Murphy, an internationally acclaimed collage artist. Mark is also our graphic designer who works with our team to realise our brand and art direction in our print materials you see around the city and beyond.

We spent some time talking to Mark about the work he has created for Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land,  as well as own practice.  

You recently designed the Chris Watson material, what were your main inspirations for creating that piece?

In summer of 2017 I experienced Chris’s sound installation in a quarry in Torbay, as part of The Tale by Situations and Philip Hoare. It was amazing to hear sounds of the deep resonating around a huge quarry by the sea. It was massive juxtaposition, taking sounds that weren’t from that space and putting them into a vastly different context. My visual collage approach often explores juxtaposition too… I’ve worked as a designer for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts since 2015. In conversations with the team about the material for No Man’s Land, we decided upon a different approach from previous materials and something special that would stand out for this particular project in a new and different way. The collage of visual references worked well to convey the audio collage of Chris’s piece. The limited colours helped to unify the various elements, allowing a range of images to combine without everything feeling too busy.

Seeing a lot of your collage work we see many faceless subjects, are there any reasons or inspirations for this?

Many collage artists leave out, obstruct or replace faces. I think that a faceless figure, has the power to no longer represent the person in the original image, it becomes more about people generally than a person specifically. When I have exhibited original works, these pieces are well received. Viewers can more easily relate to an idea or composition and relate it to themselves when not looking at someone else’s face I think.

You say humour is a big part of your work, why is that? Do you think humour in collages (or art more broadly) is important?

I don’t think it’s essential by any means. I can think of many many powerful works that are completely unhumorous. That said, I do enjoy humorous art, but that can also depend on the humour… For me though, after lots of years of screen-based work, it’s been quite a joyful process connecting with a way of image making that is non digital again. It has limitations which is a challenge, but one I enjoy navigating. Perhaps, sometimes the enjoyment of the process shows itself in me making humorous work. Playing with scale can often have funny results, juxtaposing giant figures into vast landscapes will very often have a sense of humour.

What is your process when creating these collages, do you sketch them beforehand or leave it to the moment and experiment? 

On occasion I have sketched an idea and worked from that, but mostly I experiment and make in the moment. I’m constantly collecting source materials. I particularly love older print (1950’s - 1970’s), the colour reproduction is often heavily saturated, which looks amazing.

The whole collage process I find quite mindful, from the quiet concentration of cutting out elements, to the experimentation on page. When I began making collages regularly about five years ago, I rarely stuck pieces down, I would try a myriad of compositions, photographing as I went - temporary collages - ephemeral…The more work I’ve made the more instinctual the process has become, I often just get a sense when a piece is ‘right’, and there is always an element of chance… what elements will present themselves from the piles of old books and magazines I’ve amassed. 

How did you decide on the cut-out images you used for Chris Watson’s show? 

The images chosen for Chris’s show were a combination of Chris’s photos, my own photographs and some vintage illustrations from a very old Norwegian nature book I picked up in a second-hand bookstore in Tromso, Norway, earlier this year.

The decisions were based largely around the sounds that feature in No Man’s Land, the cast list! 

For more information on Chris Watson’s installation No Man’s Land check out our website here.

​Total Theatre Archive: preserving 30 years of UK performance history and creating an interactive archive

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We have a great opportunity to share from our friends at Total Theatre Magazine. 

Are you interested in any of the following: archiving processes, arts journalism, theatre and performance, writing and editing specialist arts magazines and blogs, cultural heritage? Would you be interested in volunteering (part-time) or undertaking a short full-time work experience placement with Total Theatre Magazine in 2018? 

Total Theatre Magazine is putting together a small team of volunteers to work on an exciting new project – the Total Theatre Archive. Phase one of this project has started, and are now recruiting volunteers & student placements to work with them (number of days to be agreed between Total Theatre Magazine and the volunteer).  Start dates to be agreed with the volunteers, are from April 2018 onwards.

Volunteers will be paid in travel and lunch expenses. Some of the work will be administrative but there will also be the opportunity to see performance work and write about it, and to be involved in the process of archiving Total Theatre’s print magazines, and creating content for their websites. 

Total Theatre Magazine has, for over 30 years, celebrated and supported theatre and performance in the UK – in particular, forms given little attention by mainstream media, libraries, or archives, such as experimental theatre, physical and visual theatre, street theatre and outdoor arts, contemporary circus, puppetry and animation, performance art, hybrid performance, feminist and queer/LGBT theatre. The print magazine encompassed 100 issues over the course of 25 years. Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Our Heritage fund this archive will be preserved for everyone to engage with, all content provided free to view. The new Total Theatre Archive website to be launched early in 2019. The current site can be viewed here: 

Editor Dorothy Max Prior and Web Editor John Ellingsworth will be working with members of the magazine’s editorial team and volunteers to scan, upload and tag content, creating a fully searchable website that will be a valuable resource for scholars, journalists, artists, students, and anybody interested in Britain’s alternative theatre and performance history. Once the website is built, Total Theatre Magazine will be working with writers, editors and leading arts professionals to create new content that will reflect upon and interact with the archive.

Supporters of this project include Rose Bruford College of Theatre  & Performance, Royal Conservatoire Scotland, and us! 

Contact editor Dorothy Max Prior by email to to express interest in this role and to find out more.

Some hints of what you will hear at No Man’s Land

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Today (Monday 26 March) we are getting ready for Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land, which opens tomorrow at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts and runs to the 13 April. 

Chris has given us some hints of the sounds you might hear in No Man’s Land, his journey around the world via the seven seas in sound.

Brighton sea front

Brighton beach 

Starlings roosting on the old West Pier, Brighton

Sea wash at the base of the pier taking the listener underwater and out into the deep ocean

Weddell seals singing under the Antarctic sea ice by Ross Island

A coral reef in the South China Sea

Humpback whales singing on the Silverbank in the Caribbean, off the Dominican Republic

Hunting pods of Orca in the North Atlantic Ocean

Grey seals singing off the Isle of May in Scotland

Bearded seals singing by the Tuna glacier in Svalbard, the Arctic Ocean 

Return to Brighton beach


These sounds are punctuated by the harmonic rhythms and pulses of the great ocean currents.

Let us know how many you hear!


Book your ticket to hear the full work via this link. 


Chris Watson: No Man’s Land for D/deaf audiences

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Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land is an audio installation that celebrates the sounds, rhythms and music from deep below the surface the world’s seas and oceans.

Taking place at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from 27 March – 13 April and suitable for all ages, this city-specific edit of the sound work created by Watson (David Attenborough’s sound recordist), takes the listener from Brighton beach, through the soapy surf and out around the world, submerged on an oceanic journey for the ears and the imagination.

No Man’s Land is a unique spatialized audio journey into the deep ocean and the most ‘sound rich’ environments on the planet. The sounds that make up the piece have been collected by Watson over his 30-year career as a sound recordist specialising in natural history, including from his work on Frozen Planet and on documentaries and musical collaborations at far ends of the earth. Watson is also an experimental musician and a founding member of the group Cabaret Voltaire.

The balloon is a way that D/deaf or hard of hearing audiences can experience No Man’s Land via the medium of vibrations. 

 The membrane of a balloon is sensitive and it vibrates because the soundwaves from our  speakers are powerful, especially in the ‘ambisonic’ configuration that we will have our auditorium set up in for this installation.

You will be able to pick up a (biodegradable) balloon at our box office before your visit if you would like to experience the work in this way.

For more information contact our box office in person 10am-4pm Monday to Friday or via 01273 678 822 /


URF broadcast from Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

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We are delighted to be hosting URF - University Radio Falmer - for a special residency. 

URF - part of the University of Sussex’s campus since 1976 - is a student run, online and unplaylisted radio station. 

In conjunction with SMUTs (Sussex Musical Theatre) being here with us for their brand new production of Jekel and Hyde, the URF team will be in our Music Recording Studio for the week, broadcasting all shows from our building. 

Tune in to URF from Tuesday-Friday 20-23 March for news, current affairs, music, arts, chat and more. Here’s the link

ACCA Conversations: Chris Watson

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Chris Watson’s No Man’s Land is an audio installation that celebrates the sounds, rhythms and music from deep below the surface the world’s seas and oceans.

Taking place at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, from 27 March – 13 April and suitable for all ages, this city-specific edit of the sound work created by Watson (David Attenborough’s sound recordist), takes the listener from Brighton beach, through the soapy surf and out around the world, submerged on an oceanic journey for the ears and the imagination. We caught up with Chris to find out more about his work. 

You say that you use the tape recorder as instrument. How much do you manipulate the recordings of nature or do you organically let them weave into a soundtrack?

Most of the sounds I recorded via my hydrophones for ‘No Man’s Land’ have a strange, exotic and engaging quality, and they are intact, as recorded. The composition process is to discover ways of creating a seamless narrative movement through the ocean.

What sort of sounds can the visitor to No Man’s Land expect and where did you find them? Are there any you would have liked to include but have not yet recorded? 

Weddell seals singing under the antarctic sea ice, the myriad voices of crustaceans on a coral reef in the South China seas, the haunting songs of humpback whales on The Silverbank in the Caribbean, the siren calls of Grey seals by a British coastal island and the familiar push and pull of the surf through the pebbles on Brighton breach.

What are the most challenging situations you have faced when recording the sounds for No Man’s Land? Any interesting stories you’d like to tell us?

The ocean is a hostile environment and recording within the Polar regions is always a challenge. One of my favourite times was watching and recording pods of Orca hunting fish in Arctic waters, standing on the surface of sea ice and listening to the all the communications under my feet.

Why make the installation solely focus on sound? Do you think that having visual elements in the installation would disrupt the sonic recordings?

The seas and oceans are the most sound rich environments on the planet and all animals there live in a world of sound and vibration. For ‘No Man’s Land’ I’m interested in engaging the listeners imagination through sound, and the audience will create their own unique images.

Visit here to book your tickets to see the work. No Man’s Land is suitable for all ages. 

New Season. New cafe-bar menu.

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Spring is almost here and with the start of a new season, we are excited to announce the re-opening of our café-bar with its new, mouth-watering menu. If you are in search for a relaxing spot to grab a coffee, do some reading or have a delightful lunch, the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts café-bar is the answer. 

In between the University of Sussex library and the Sports Centre, our cafe-bar is placed perfectly for those who need a break. Accessible for all and nestled near the South Downs, the cafe-bar is furnished with original Basil Spence furniture and many lush green plants. Even on the bleakest of days, this venue allows for natural light which motivates you to keep reading, studying or simply relaxing.  It’s a place that is as much for families as for students - we also welcome well behaved canine friends. 

The menu includes sandwich options with rustic sun-grain or white sourdough breads, charcuterie, cheeseboards, seafood platters and a vegetarian platter option. We are also vegan friendly with plenty of things to choose from. We are now open from 10am, Monday to Friday and our breakfast menu includes morning pastries and a selection of homemade cakes. For this season, we are also offering the delicious leek and potato soup for just £3.50 which comes with two slices of patisserie bread and butter – perfect for this unusually cold March! For drinks, they range from soft drinks including a refreshing elderflower cordial, to revitalising coffees and a selection of white or dark chocolates with oat, almond and soya milk options. And for alcoholic beverages, the selection of wines and cocktails on offer allow for the ideal afternoon or pre-show treat. The cafe-bar is open 10am-6pm week days and in conjunction with our artistic programme. 

Celebrating International Women’s Day

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In celebration of International Women’s day this week, we’ve pulled together some of our top picks of things to look forward to at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in the weeks ahead, as well as some news from our friends and colleagues. 

Split Britches: Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) combines Dr Strangelove-inspired performance with daring public conversation. In this show, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver lace an interactive piece with the playful urgency of the political landscape. Split Britches present an up-to-the-minute topical interactive show which takes unexploded ordnances as a metaphor for the unexplored potential in us all - particularly elders – and tries to uncover it.  Check it out on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 March, more information here.

Culture Fest is an event from Sussex University’s Afro Caribbean Society.  The event will include performance from our campus community that celebrates traditional female dances and cultures. Check it out on 16 March, more information here

Tune-Yards at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts this Spring has now sold out but lead female singer Merrill Garbus must also be mentioned during International Women’s day for her work as an intersectional feminist. Using her platform to discuss women issues in progressive ways, Tune-Yards are a band that are not afraid to be political. Watch the video below and see what they are all about.  

In the spirit of today, we also think back to when Laura McDermott awarded Lady Susan Woodford-Hollick an honorary degree earlier this year at the University of Sussex Winter Graduation. Check out this snap (left) of our Creative Director with Lady Woodford-Hollick, a life-long campaigner for human rights and diversity, and a businesswoman and consultant with a wide-ranging involvement in broadcasting and the arts. Laura told us, “Sue’s daring spirit: her bravery and commitment to challenging the status quo is the thread that runs throughout her career.” 

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