'No New Worlds' - Mayflower art installation lights up Plymouth coastline
A major new piece of art has been unveiled off the coast of Plymouth, exploring questions around colonialism, climate change and the legacy of the Mayflower story.
The 'Speedwell' structure, made out of thousands of metal brackets, round disks and lightbulbs, sits on scaffolding on the Mountbatten Breakwater and appears, as the sun goes down, to be floating on the water.
Created by local artist collective Still/Moving, the work was funded by Arts Council England and Plymouth Culture as part of the Mayflower 400 celebrations.
It is 63m long and 6m high, and the artists hope it provokes debate about climate change, the legacy of the journeys made by the Mayflower and its companion ship the Speedwell, and our relationship with history.
Artist Laura Hopes said: "The phrase 'No New Worlds' really speaks to two major themes. The idea that the settlers on board the Mayflower were sailing to what they thought was a 'new world' but it wasn't a new world for those indigenous people already there. But also that idea that we only have one world and we need to take care of it."
Artist Leonie Hampton added: "I hope that this creates a space in Plymouth and beyond where people can question these voyagers and this ongoing process of colonisation, and to think about the stories we tell ourselves about the past and how those stories inform our future."
Adrian Vinken, chair of Mayflower 400, said: "In exploring all aspects of the Mayflower story, and particularly its passengers being part of the intensive colonisation of America, projects like Speedwell shed light on an important and often neglected fact of history, that people with rich societies and culture had lived there as successful custodians of their natural environment for thousands of years before the Mayflower’s arrival."