A site-specific installation, Speedwell uses the simple language of illuminated signage to oppose the historic idea that there ever was a 'New World'. It urgently asks us to imagine new ways of living, caring and dying well together on this damaged planet.
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 changes slowly and silently in the vast space of Plymouth Sound it gives rise to complex questions. By using three words (NO, NEW, WORLDS) it invites 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’; asking us to imagine new worlds of living, caring and dying well together. The artwork will remain 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’ is a light that joins 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 play with the impact of their ever-shifting message.
‘Speedwell’ uses 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.
'Speedwell' is visible from the shoreline 24hrs a day between 4th September and 29th November 2020, but it is best experienced between dusk and dawn.
Still/Moving invites you to visit the structure up close on the breakwater where you can add your own voice in response to the sculpture.
Still/Moving want you to add your voice to Speedwell and to make your own journey to the sculpture.
You can do this in two ways:
You can take the ferry from the Mayflower Steps jetty over to Mount Batten, or walk/bus/drive there. Between 11am and 5pm, weather permitting, you should find a Mayflower Volunteer by the structure who will help you write your own message or story on one of the metal tags which you can tie to the structure.
Or if you can't make it to the structure, we invite you to write your own virtual ‘tag’ or leave a voice message below
Ursula K Le Guin
Throughout the duration of Speedwell's installation on Mount Batten Breakwater a series of 'In Conversations' will be held between Still/Moving and invited speakers to discuss some of the themes raised by the project. The talks will be live-streamed online. Click here for a full list and for archived sessions