Paul Rooney’s ‘McKenzie’ sound work


For a few days only this week you can enter the grounds of the derelict St Andrews Church in Rodney Street. You can’t actually go near the graves as that area is unsafe but in the safe area there is a 9 minute sound piece by Paul Rooney based on the story of William McKenzie. There is just one speaker on a platform, someone is talking to McKenzie, using different kinds of language, English but from 17th century to more contemporary. The narrative is interspersed with music by local band Mugstar.

McKenzie, a gambler, is said to have made a pact with the devil to ensure a winning hand in a poker game. Worried that the devil would claim him if he was buried underground, he left instructions that he was not to be buried, but instead encased in a pyramid, sat upright at a card table, with a winning hand of cards. This tomb still stands in a derelict graveyard on Rodney Street.

Commissioned by Sound and Music

St. Andrew’s Church, Rodney Street,
Wed 19 – Sat 22 May 2010, open daily 4pm – 7pm
Free admission

Part of Memories are Made of This: Sound and Music at Liverpool Sound City



  1. The picture above is the event – sound comes from the speaker.
    I’ve seen both spellings but it’s not for me to say. The artist has named it McKenzie and it’s his statement so I have to stick with that.

  2. Ha, true enough. My bad reading skills failed to notice the quotation marks the first time around.

    It is interesting that the story is of ‘William Mckenzie’ yet the grave is of ‘William Mackenzie’.

    Was it a concious effort on the artists part to make this differentiation? Or perhaps there is a parallel development between ‘history’ and ‘art’ which superficially seems the same but opens deeper questions into how history inspires fiction and fiction feeds fiction.


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