On display in the Chiswick House Cellar, is a site-responsive sound installation entitled, ‘we shed as we pick up – Tales of the Named and the Nameless, 2023,’ a site-responsive sound installation consisting of a collection of mythical tales devised and narrated by storyteller Leah Muwanga-Magoye.

The piece responds to the design choices of the cellar. With no paintings to interpret or furnishings to comment on, the performance of the rest of the House falls away. It is stripped bare. The focal point of the room becomes the people standing inside it.

For the artist the invitation is direct and effective: speak plainly of how you came here, what you’ve done and what you hope to do. The names you were born into, the names you have been given, the names you would choose for yourself. Your names hold stories within them, and shared stories weave the fabric of connection.

The carefully crafted tales carry within them the power of names. Utilising the ancient form of oral storytelling, she rejects the limitation of Burlington’s Eurocentric ideals, in favour of remembering her Ugandan cultural heritage.

This is the first work that Leah has completed since the death of her mother.

Leah Muwanga-Magoye said:

If, in the wider context, the Grand Tour is a journey taken on the cusp of adulthood, the space you travel through between one version of yourself and another, then in a sense the collection of stories is my version of that. Whilst working on the project I had to say goodbye to the home my mother had lived in for almost 20 years. It made me acutely aware of the value of a built environment, and how to begin to fill the void left by the absence of it.

‘we shed as we pick up’ – Tales of the Named and the Nameless, 2023 is in the Cellar and is included in admission for Chiswick House and Kitchen Garden. Open Thursday-Sunday, 11am-4pm), until 1 October 2023. Book tickets.

Leah Muwanga-Magoye by Joshua Fray

About Leah Muwanga-Magoye
Leah Muwanga-Magoye is a storyteller born in England to Ugandan parents. Her nomadic upbringing in Kenya, Namibia and the UK influenced her interest in the power of mythical narratives to reclaim forfeited spaces, remember forgotten truths and repair fragmented identities.

As a writer she has worked across theatre, film, television, animation, and interactive fiction. She was awarded the Hardie Prize at the University of Edinburgh for her dissertation on The Mythic and Tragic Visions of Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy. After completing an MA in Dramatic Writing, she went on to teach as an Associate Lecturer at Central St Martin’s. She has also worked as Narrative Designer for interactive scripted projects in development at Netflix.

In 2019 she was awarded Arts Council funding to develop a theatrical work and was elected to be in the 2022 cohort of Games London’s Ensemble showcase exhibited across the UK, including Trafalgar Square. She has also been profiled for the Screen Industries Growth Network and spoken on panels for the Writer’s Guild, BBC Radio 1, and Film London.

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The Heart of Design is kindly supported by Art Fund and The Linbury Trust.