For over 700 years there was a site of execution at Tyburn in London. Here those who fell foul of political, religious and judicial reforms enacted by the state were executed for public entertainment and instruction. A study of those executed at Tyburn charts a history of the UK, illustrating the twists and turns of monarchical and political whimsy, church and state, and the birth of capitalism.
At our current moment of enforced austerity and social reform, Tyburnia explores the parallels between contemporary and historical notions of crime in relation to business and property, the spectacular nature of punishment, and the state's use of the body as a site for political control.
James Holcombe - The Film
Shooting on 8mm and 16mm film, James Holcombe gained access to numerous artifacts associated with the Tyburn; reliquaries housing the remains of catholic martyrs, body parts preserved by surgeons, the bell that tolled on the eve of executions, and the eventual resting place of the gallows themselves. Using hand processing and historic chemical techniques the scenes forming Tyburnia bring forth a film that is both visually and thematically engrossing, demonstrating how, despite the gallows having long since vanished, we still stand in the shadow of it's punitive ideology.
The Sound Track
Tyburnia has provided an opportunity to breath life back into some very peculiar and rare songs. Bringing to bare their gritty, rough hewn interpretations and dextrous multi-instrumentalism, the DRO have created a sound track that features songs that were composed by or for those condemned to 'dance the Tyburn jig', bringing a new understanding to the broadside ballads that have become a staple of folk music, but here presented in close association to their original context.
Alongside ballads of the condemned the DRO have undertaken the great challenge of crafting contemporary versions of long forgotten songs in the luridly descriptive language of thieves cant.
Tyburnia - The Tour
The shadow of the Tyburn Tree extended well beyond London, with assizes, gallows, and gibbets in many market and county towns. To explore this rich and melancholy history Tyburnia will be performed as close to the location of various regional gallows as possible. This means taking a film screening to some pretty unusual places, and to do this we need your help!
Tyburnia is an incredible creative opportunity to explore how systems of civil jurisdiction were enforced across the UK, to examine local history and contemporary life and how these tie in with national narratives.
27th May - London - The Carpenters Arms
29th - London - Apiary Studios
30th May - Norwich - Norwich Arts Centre
31st May - Colchester - Colchester Arts Centre
5th June - Bristol - Cube Cinema
6th June - Lewes - Westgate Chapel
7th June - Cambridge - Castle End Mission / Museum of Cambridge
11th June - Winchester - St John The Baptist
12th June - Reading - Rising Sun Arts Centre
14 June – Royal Holloway University of London- The Boilerhouse Lecture Theatre
19th June - Taunton - Museum of Somerset
20th June - Lewannick - Lewannick Community Cinema
21st June - Exeter - The Cavern
25th June - Devizes - Wiltshire Museum
26th June - Ipswich - Think Tank
3rd July - Oxford - Modern Art Oxford
4th July - Northampton - The Victoria
5th July - Shrewsbury - Morris Hall
Hear Dead Rat Orchestra's sound track to Tyburnia, streaming at
The Wire - Adventures in Modern Music