What we do?
Small Silence is a quietly creative organisation dedicated to improving mental health and wellbeing through the arts. With a focus on sound and listening, Small Silence uses sound art practices to nurture wellbeing and connect with quiet. We do this through:
Paying attention to the present moment: Care-full, attentive listening helps us slow down, develop a calm focus and appreciate everyday experiences more intensely, encouraging us to be more compassionate to ourselves, others and the environment.
Connecting with others: Making art brings people together in a relaxed and friendly environment, encouraging the exchange of ideas, stories and experiences, while promoting cooperation, friendship and feelings of belonging.
Learning: Sound art practice develops a range of personal, creative and technical skills that boost self-confidence, raise self-esteem and foster a sense of purpose.
Keeping active: soundwalks, field recording and other slow arts activities get us out and about, benefitting our health and wellbeing.
Giving: By sharing our experiences and creations we can inspire others, spark their interest, make them smile and foster understanding. Quietly connecting with others through engaging arts activities, nurtures positive feelings of purpose and self-worth.
Accessing quiet: Small Silence is committed to protecting and promoting access to public quiet spaces, helping us to experience positive silences in the day that support our wellbeing.
Small Silence works in partnership with a wide range of organisations, delivering innovative and engaging multidisciplinary arts initiatives that aim to encourage and support positive mental health in people from all backgrounds and walks of life. In all that we do, Small Silence aspires to support individuals and communities cultivate care, wisdom and resilience.
Why listening and sound art?
Finding fascination in the everyday and reconnecting with the soundscape helps us to appreciate the simple joy of listening and draws us back to the present, acknowledging our responses and substituting unhelpful thoughts with gentle curiosity while growing in acceptance and awareness.
Listening is free and available to us. It does not require the investment of time and money in instruments, lessons, rehearsal space, recording equipment.
Much of the sound art work we do is based outside and in nature. As well as encouraging exercise, being immersed in the natural world offers a host of benefits to our mental health.
Unlike with popular music styles, few people have preconceptions of how sound art should sound. This liberates human creativity from awkward self-consciousness, personal expectations and the threat of others’ judgements.
The Small Silence team consists of three Directors and a dynamic group of artists, musicians, educators and technologists. We 'custom build' the team, to suit your project, drawing on their experience and expertise to deliver innovative and workable projects that meet objectives.
Richard Bentley (Creative Director)
Richard is a sound artist whose work explores focus-oriented sound art practice and the experience of positive silence. This interest is manifested through listenings, writings, field recordings, composition, soundwalks and the development of approaches to participatory sound art practice.
Informed by his artistic practice and drawing from the fields of sound studies, art therapy and positive psychology, Richard's research investigates focused-oriented sound art practices for wellbeing. He is a qualified teacher and Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, an ambassador for Hush City App, Silent Space and is the UK representative for Quiet Parks International. He is also an Associate Artist with the Jelly arts organisation based in Reading. For more information about his sound arts practice visit: www.anoisysilence.com
Japke Wanrooij (Director)
Japke is a Dutch mother of two young adults, and a yoga teacher. Working for Bracknell and Wokingham College's "Wellbeing in Mind", she has learnt how exercise and arts sessions can help manage mental health, by providing opportunities for movement, creative activity, and/or calming sensory experiences, which are shared but not expressly social.
Following a BSc in Psychology, Japke is now a counsellor in training, with a growing understanding of the multifaceted nature of mental health, and the importance of reconnection, purpose, and creativity, alongside the traditional therapeutic approaches of medication and talk-therapy.
As a flute player, Japke has personally experienced the benefits of art on her health, through its aesthetic, physical (respiratory), and mind-focusing aspects. While mindfulness and meditation has been recommended to help overcome mood disturbances, sitting in silence facing one's thoughts and feelings may prove counterproductive for many. Instead, the participatory sound art practices Small Silence delivers, can be a more low-threshold route to reawakening people's sense of belonging, direction, and curiosity. Japke's contribution to the organisation is, amongst other things, to advise on matters relating to mental health and wellbeing.
James Townsend (Director)
James has 15 years' director-level experience in marketing communications functions at international IT, engineering / design and consulting firms and can also draw upon 4 years' experience as a school governor.
Having personally suffered with stress and anxiety, James can vouch for the transformative power of mindfulness practice and is an active long term member of the Two Rivers Zen Buddhist Sangha. The arts is James' passion, hosting and playing at local music events and whether as an employee, member of the community or family man, James thrives on inspiring people to co-create something greater than the sum of its parts.
Matthew Foster (Director)
Matt is a musician, educator and music producer who has been working in the south of England for over 20 years. He is Head of Academy for local music charity The Rock Academy Foundation and regularly works with young people on creative sound-based projects.
Matt studied popular music at Bretton Hall College and, following a move to Berkshire, he taught music and music technology at Reading College for 14 years. He continues to teach at Newbury College alongside his work with The Rock Academy and Readipop and his national performance and recording work with Ma Bessie and her Pig Foot band.
Natalie Ganpatsingh (Ambassador)
Natalie believes that connecting people with the wild spaces within our towns and cities is crucial to building strong, happy, healthy communities who care about each other and the environment. Her award-winning social enterprise, Nature Nurture CIC collaborates withthe conservation, heritage, health and education sectors to achieve positive outcomes for people and the planet.
She also works as ‘Nature Lead’ for Dr. William Bird’s company, Intelligent Health, helping to re-wild communities across the UK. In 2016 Nature Nurture achieved a achieved a Pride of Reading Award in recognition of their success in engaging people with nature and in 2017 we were selected as one of the 50 Gamechangers in the Thames Valley design
and technology community. In 2019 we won the Institute of Outdoor Learning's 'Community Development Award'.
Her work has taken her to Belize (Raleigh International Expedition Artist, 1998), Ghana (Oxfam On the Line project, 2000), Kenya (Media Development Education Project, 2008) and Palestine (United Nations ‘Participate’ project, with ‘Real Time Video’; film-making with Palestinian women, 2013). Natalie is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and a trustee of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.
Nino Auricchio (Ambassador)
Nino has worked for Sony Music, BMG and numerous dance and soul labels. Nino has had success as part of the funk act Funkshone, releasing records globally through Skyline Records, P-Vine in Japan with work remixed by Kenny Dope Gonzalez.
Nino composes library music and has work licensed by Red Bull for the World BBoy Championships and the US film, Growing Reason. Nino is a senior lecturer in sound engineering at the University of West London and is undertaking a PhD in electronic music composition.
Liz Ware (Ambassador)
Liz is the founder of not for profit Silent Space - a project encouraging beautiful parks and gardens open to the public to reserve an area for silent visiting. Taking time out to stroll quietly or to sit and reflect, we can engage more deeply with the sights and sounds of nature. At the same time and in a very gentle way, we also engage with ourselves.
Liz is a freelance garden writer and historian, writing on all aspects of gardens but with a particular interest in their relationship to health. Plants, gardens and landscapes have taken her to every corner of the globe but she is equally happy on her Oxfordshire allotment.