Speedwell, an art installation on Plymouth's Mountbatten Breakwater has been welcomed by many and provoked negative responses from some, and that's exactly what art should do, it should provoke thought.
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.
N.B I am not creatively involved in this project, merely inspired to photograph it and share its important message.
Find out more here: stillmoving.org/projects/speedwell