‘Sonic Mmabolela’ is a 2-week residency for sound artists and composers with previous experience in the area of sound experimentation and sound recordings at Mmabolela Reserve, in the Limpopo province of South Africa, right at the border with Botswana. The residency is led by sound artists Francisco Lopez and Barbara Ellison.


Over the two weeks at Mmabolela we discussed the theory behind environmental recordings and sound art with special focus on creative approaches to the work with environmental sound recordings, as well as the role of listening, through extensive exploration of natural sound environments.

The residency involved various field trips across Mmabolela (both diurnal and nocturnal) where we had extensive listening sessions, recording sessions and outdoor ‘concerts’. We also had studio sessions where we listened to and developed materials, presentations of our own work to the other artists and finally, developed, realized and presented a sound piece with original sound materials gathered throughout the residency.

Sonic Mmabolela was the most wonderful sound experience. There were plenty of opportunities to record, listen and reflect on the time spent there. I travelled with a group of sound artists from such varied backgrounds and gained a lot from each of their approaches to the use of field recordings in their work. Having come back with over 50 hours of recorded material I am keen to try and listen through it all and have already started composing: