House of Figs

House of Figs is a collaboration between two prominent Bristol-based artists, Beth Calverley (The Poetry Machine) and Bethany M. Roberts (Hands of the Heron / Hedera). Bethany conjures soundscapes with her voice and pedalboard, creating an otherworldly choir around Beth’s tenderly powerful poetry.

As collaboration & improvisation specialists, they take care to create a held space for audience members to taste the fruits of fibrous emotions. With a bright touch, they explore complex feelings around anxiety, loss, belonging and womanhood, cocooned in a sonic sanctuary of ambient textures. In their live set, House of Figs perform adaptations of poems from Beth Calverley’s collection ‘Brave Faces & Other Smiles’ (Verve Poetry Press, 2020), which Benjamin Zephaniah described as “a great collection with an honest, real theme.”

The duo have recently been developing their collaborative improvisation practice, supported by Arts Council England. Together, they are working on a poetry and music show with elements of live-improvised immersive soundscapes. Beth is Poet in Residence at Bristol & Weston NHS Trust, and Bethany is taking up a parallel role as Musican in Residence during 2023.

House of Figs have headlined events at Bristol Poetry Festival and Komedia Bath, and performed at Green Man, WOMAD and Bristol Harbour Festival. The duo have also been commissioned to create new work for beloved public spaces such as Bristol Temple Meads and South Bristol Community Hospital. Sabotage Reviews described their lockdown poetry and music piece ‘Love Letter to the NHS’ as “hypnotic… it radiates tenderness and awe”, channeling “the uniquely strange mix of emotions we are collectively experiencing in this moment: gratitude and powerlessness, fear and hope”.

For fans of: Simon & Garfunkel, Alabaster DePlume, Kae Tempest, Joni Mitchell