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☟“Brekekekéx koáx koáx!”☟

Performance and sound piece, 02:36 mins, 2020-21

Photographs of Hilltop Pond and still from live-streamed performance by Faye Eldret

Vinyl window display of the song at Page Not Found, The Hague (NL) as part of their Open Letters series

The last known colony of the Common Tree Frog (Hyla Arborea) in the British wild was found at Hilltop Pond, near Beaulieu. It once thrived and frog song was reported to be heard frequently by locals for decades. By the late 1980s the pond fell silent, and the very last male specimen was spotted far away from its original site in 1988, calling a lonely ‘Brekekekéx koáx koáx!’ for a non-existent female. The colony was made extinct largely due to humans collecting the frogs as colourful pets. Previously the Common Tree Frog was considered a ‘non-native’ or ‘alien’ species within the UK, but the inability to trace the origins of this colony has led scientists to debate whether it has been native all along.

Brekekekéx koáx koáx!’ is a new work made with local singers – a song that could act as a futile, ritualistic attempt to resurrect the extinct (in the British wild) species. The lyrics to ‘Bryd one Brere’ (said to be the oldest surviving secular love song in the English language) have been rewritten using astrological predictions for 1988, the year the last male was sighted, as an attempt to retroactively foresee the extinction. These predictions have been unearthed from a 1988 edition of an Old Moore’s Almanack. ‘Brekekekéx koáx koáx!’ borrows its name from The Frogs, a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. During a choral interlude to the play, the onomatopoeic cry of ‘Brekekekéx koáx koáx!’ is the only time that the titular frogs are heard. They exist only to annoy the protagonist, who tries his best to eliminate their sound. He eventually manages to silence them with a monstrous fart.


“Brekekekéx koáx koáx!”
Revolution is apt, apt to flower.
Yet this sunny picture has its own shadows.
Beware deception, the turning of the tide,
Losses could well follow,
It will be bitter.

A warning of the need to remain calm.
A choice, unity or disintegration,
Is seized by, by unrealistic hopes and fears.
Reflect this from now on,
A planet of illusion.

Your grass roots may wither or split.
These are seeds of global crisis sewn.
Become embroiled in wars of wounded pride.
Continue its slow voyage,
The turning of the tide.

Singer from live-streamed performance in The New Forest - Faye Eldret
Singer from live performance at Page Not Found - Elisenda Pujals
Harpist from performance at Page Not Found - Louise Ubbels
Devised by Georgie Brinkman
Based on ‘Bryde one Brere’, Anon. 1300s

This work was commissioned as part of ‘Art and the Rural Imagination’ by More than Ponies, The New Forest (UK). Originally intended as a live performance with a local choir, we had to reconfigure the work to instead be live-streamed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

In 2021 I was commissioned to present an iteration of the project as a vinyl window display and live performance at Page Not Found, The Hague (NL), as part of their Open Letters series.