Speedwell was switched off on Thursday 26th November 2020 to commemorate the National Day of Mourning. See our Amplify Project page for more information. It was dismantled in December 2020.
Speedwell was the companion ship of the Mayflower that was forced to return to England. The people on board the Speedwell had to find ways to make peace with the place they sought to escape from. Captivated by this journey of return and how that resonates today, Still/Moving chose to name this project about the 'New World' Speedwell.
As the text changed slowly and silently in the vast space of Plymouth Sound it gave rise to complex questions. By using three words (NO, NEW, WORLDS) it invited 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 offered multiple readings; constantly shifting between words that were lit up and questioned the historic conceit that there ever was a ‘New World’; asking us to imagine new worlds of living, caring and dying well together. The artwork was illuminated through September, October and November of 2020.
In 1620 the people on board the Mayflower went to settle in what they called the New World, which was in fact a world where indigenous people already lived. The Speedwell, a ship intended to sail alongside the Mayflower, was unable to make the journey across the Atlantic. Some of those who returned to England on board the Speedwell had to find ways to make peace with the place they sought to escape from.
‘Speedwell’ was a light that joined the constellation of other navigational beacons within Plymouth Sound, that illuminate paths to the ocean and to safe harbour. The Sound is a wide canvas on which boats and warships come, linger and go, tracing an iconography of commerce, attack and defence. Onto this backdrop, the illuminated words played with the impact of their ever-shifting message.
‘Speedwell’ was made from modular, recyclable technology that has the capacity to be re-written in the future. Its real-time, randomly generated sequence of iterations enables the sculpture to embody an intuitive voice of its own.
Still/Moving invited you to add your voice to Speedwell and to make your own journey to the sculpture.
Blank metal tags and pens were available for you to write your own message or story which you could tie to the structure.
Throughout the duration of Speedwell's installation on Mount Batten Breakwater a series of 'In Conversations' was held between Still/Moving and invited speakers to discuss some of the themes raised by the project. The conversations are all now available online. Click here for a full list and for archived sessions