House of Figs is a collaboration of two prominent Bristol based-artists, Beth Calverley (The Poetry Machine; Poet in Residence at Bristol & Weston NHS Trust) and Bethany M. Roberts (Hands of the Heron). Bethany M. Roberts conjures soundscapes with layers of banjo, violin and voice for Beth Calverley’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, grief, 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.” This year, the duo have been collaborating on their live improvisation practice, supported by Arts Council England. As part of their set, they improvise immersive poetry and music soundscapes, carefully facilitated to co-create a memorable piece of sound art in response to audience’s stories.
House of Figs have headlined events at Bristol Poetry Festival and Komedia Bath, with upcoming features at Green Man and Bristol Harbour Festival. The duo have 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”, capturing “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