Offsite at Nine Elms: Phil Coy, Swete Brethe

21 Oct 2021–28 Nov 2021
PV 21 Oct 2021,


Matt’s Gallery is pleased to present Swete Brethe, a site-specific installation and generative sonic work by Phil Coy. Offsite at Nine Elms: United States Embassy (Stop D), London SW8 5DF and online at

Sited at the boundary line of the U.S. Embassy in Nine Elms, Wandsworth, the installation defines a square of land featuring a windsock and an anemometer, instruments for measuring wind speed and direction. The live wind speed data is transmitted to where it sonically alters a trumpet solo composed especially for the project by virtuoso jazz musician Byron Wallen.

Heralding the launch of Matt’s Gallery’s new space in Nine Elms, Swete Brethe borrows its title from the General Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) in which the narrative is established amidst the arrival of the allegorical West Wind. The intangible nature of this invisible force, that can be felt but not seen, suggests the emblematic power of the U.S. Embassy and the change it brought to the local ecology with its relocation to Wandsworth in 2017.

Incorporating scientific instrumentation and utilitarian building materials such as tubular steel, concrete, and galvanised steel mesh fencing, Swete Brethe absorbs the language of the surrounding built environment, transmitting an evolving score for an area emerging from a construction in process.

The solo trumpet draws critically on the instrument’s military history and use for bombastic grand entrances and raising of flags. The horn’s voice is disembodied, located somewhere in the ether, picking up motifs from the radical African American roots of Jazz and popular music. Wallen said, "I have always been interested in the relationship between time and mode. The Indian Raga specifies the time of day to be played. In this piece I am exploring the cyclic melodies of the lehra improvising and expanding the harmolodic dimension."

Swete Brethe has grown out of 18 months research into Nine Elms and its specificities as a place. It builds on Coy’s work with audio as a reagent device and on his practice as a filmmaker, where the separation of sound from image is integral to the process. The project also looks to another recurring feature in his work; that of making an equivalence between physical and digital sites.

Swete Brethe has been commissioned by Matt’s Gallery ahead of the opening of its new space in Nine Elms in spring 2022.

The commission is funded by Bellway, in agreement with Wandsworth Council as part of their Section 106 commitments. It is presented in partnership with London-based property developer and site owner, Dominvs Group, who have specially adapted the area in order to facilitate this temporary installation.

Matt’s Gallery is supported by Arts Council England.


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