A new 63m long and 6m high art installation, Speedwell, has been opened to the public in Plymouth.
It is hoped that it will transform the Mount Batten Breakwater into a public forum for discussion and debate about the impact and legacy of the Mayflower’s journey, colonialism and the ecological state of our planet during the Mayflower 400 commemorations.
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.
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 October and November.
Created by local artist collective Still/Moving, Speedwell was funded by Arts Council England and Plymouth Culture as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations.