Speedwell

'Speedwell' is a large-scale art installation which is currently lighting up Plymouth, UK.

It has transformed the Mount Batten Breakwater into a public forum for discussion and debate about the impact and legacy of the ship's journey, colonialism and the ecological state of our planet during the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Created by local artist collective Still/Moving, 'Speedwell' has been funded by Arts Council England and Plymouth Culture as part of Mayflower 400.

Measuring 63m long and 6m high, 'Speedwell' uses illuminated signage comprising 3,723 LED lights to invite viewers to ask complex questions about themselves, the damaged planet and the legacy of the pivotal journeys made by the Mayflower and its companion ship the Speedwell.

It offers multiple readings; constantly shifting between words that are lit up and questioning the historic conceit that there ever was a 'New World'. The artwork will remain illuminated through September, October and November 2020.

The installation is inspired by the events of 1620 when passengers on board the Mayflower set sail to settle in what they called the 'New World', a world already home to indigenous people.

Speedwell, the companion ship intended to sail alongside the Mayflower, was unable to make the journey across the Atlantic. Some of its passengers were therefore forced to return to England and find ways to make peace with the place they sought to escape.

In response, 'Speedwell' asks visitors to imagine new worlds of living, caring and dying well together and invites visitors to add their own voices in response to the sculpture in person or online.

  • Read more about 'Speedwell here.
  • Watch our Re-informed interview with the team behind 'Speedwell' here.
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