NIGHTINGALE is a sound installation, originally created for the Charlton Centre Car Park, in Dover, Kent. The
work was created originally as part of a commission for a group-show exhibition entitled Paradise Revealed, which was curated by
Christine Gist, and took place at the Car Park as well as at the Pines Gardens at the near-by town of St Margaret’s at Cliffe.
Since the exhibition, the installation was purchased by the car park’s owners: Targetfollow – a leading commercial property
investment and development company with a commitment to encouraging and supporting art within local communities. As a result,
the work was installed permanently at the Charlton Centre Car Park for the appreciation of all those who use the
facilities. Three years later, due to car park renovations, Nightingale is no longer at the car park; however, a
variation of it has now been installed on Preston Street, in Faversham town centre, Kent.
The installation makes use of a recording of a male nightingale calling out for a mate. The bird is an endangered species, at
least in the UK, arriving in late spring each year where it begins its visit by singing night and day in order to attract a female
partner. Its call is a rich and virtuosic collection of short phrases, ranging from bubbling motifs, engine-like chugging sounds
and high pitched repeated crescendos. As such, it has found its way into our canon of literary and poetic works – from Keats to
Shakespeare, where it symbolises love, hope and reflection.
In Robert’s Nightingale installation, the bird also calls out - though not only to the wildlife but to others using the street.
According to Martin Young of Bow String Books (the current host of the installation, the birdsong has had the effect of
attracting many new people into his shop enquiring in search of the bird. The nightingale calls out for a female partner, but
The ever-changing song comes from a one-speaker-source hidden from obvious view, enticing the listener to search, and therefore relate
to and notice the surrounding area in a different way. The bird sings off-and-on, night and day, adding its musical tones to the
street's otherwise quiet ambience and offering cheerful encouragement to those that pass by.