Dr Jackie Walduck creates Medway Sonic Hand-Washing Experience

Composer and Music and Audio Technology Lecturer, Dr Jackie Walduck, has created the Medway Sonic Hand-Washing Experience, a public artwork commissioned by Medway Council as part of their post-Covid Safe Return campaign, The Rainbow Effect. The work is a sound-trail of 15 short hand-washing compositions by Dr Walduck and Music and Audio Technology lecturer, Richard Lightman, Kent Alumnus Logan Ellis and other Medway-based artists.

Jackie Walduck shares, “At the start of lockdown, I remember feeling alarmed at this new virus, for which we had no immunity.  It seemed that our best chances of defence lie in hand hygiene and social distancing. Instead of the gigs in my diary, the sound of lockdown became tap on, wash hands, tap off.  We were advised by the Prime Minister to sing “Happy Birthday” twice in order to measure out the time needed for soap to break down the Coronavirus membrane.  Personally, I soon became bored, and started to think about creating alternative 20-second musical compositions, to create a more varied hand-washing experience.”

The project draws on Dr Walduck’s many years working as a composer in health settings, creating new music with patients at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. The compositions are accessed via specially designed Hand Hygiene posters installed in bathrooms around the Borough – in libraries, leisure centres, the Brook Theatre and cafes and bars along Rochester High Street. The posters contain QR codes which, when  scanned on a  phone, take the listener is taken to 20 seconds of sonic pleasure to ensure a clean wash, and more importantly, sufficient time for soap to break down the Coronavirus cell membrane.

Dr Walduck says, “[The project] draws on an emerging collaboration with Dr Vlad Gubala from Medway School of Pharmacy, in which we have begun to consider the potential for music and visual art to tell and also enact stories of cell interactions with toxins, affected by life/health choices such as smoking. Vlad features on two of the Sonic Hand-Washing tracks, Science of Soap and Virus Vs. Soap, explaining why 20 seconds are important in this context.”

The sound trail creates an engaging and varied hand-washing experience, and with poster graphics based on glass sculptures by Roberta Mason, offers an alternative to conventional public health messaging. The Borough-wide Rainbow Effect campaign was launched on 31 March 2021, and artworks will stay in place around Medway at least until June.  Further details can be found on the Medway council website and this Council press release.