Commissioned by Bristol Beacon and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
September - October 2023
Copper frame with wheels with reclaimed pipes and free reeds, 200cm x 108cm x 37cm
2 ladders with wheels, with air conditioning pipes, metal funnels and free reeds.181cm x 105cm x 54cm
‘Free Reed’ is a sculptural installation that highlights the importance of freedom of speech and deep listening, providing a space for contemplation and discussion.
‘Free Reed’ is inspired by recent changes in protest legislation, Bristol Beacon’s pipework (silenced by sound traps, mufflers and dampers) and its unseen social history. In 1909 two Suffragettes hid in the halls’ pipe organ to interrupt a political speech with shouts of “Votes for Women!”. The pipes had spoken.
The sculptures are made out of reclaimed construction pipes that contain free reeds. These are activated by being blown into or hand-pumped. The installation was accompanied by a 10 day programme of free workshops and interventions that invited participants to address questions such as: ‘whose voices are amplified or silenced?’, ‘who really listens?’, and ‘do we truly listen?’
‘Free Reed’ travelled to community groups across Bristol, including Felix Road Adventure Playground to give voice to a Climate Action Event organised by Eastside Community Trust.
10 metre air conditioning pipes containing free reeds slowly unfurled from the balconies of Bristol Beacon's foyer space . As they descended with the force of gravity they filled with air, activating the reeds and creating drone sounds. The 10 metre pipes mirrored the look of the silenced ventilation pipes in the building and the length of the longest pipe in the pipe organ.
Download a digital version of the 'Free Reed' publication here:
Illustration by Elena Guardia Monnet
With responses and works by:
Elena Guardia Monnet