Commissioned as part of Plymouth's Mayflower 400 commemorations, 'Speedwell' by artist collective Still/Moving (Laura Hopes, Martin Hampton and Léonie Hampton) is a site-specific installation that uses the simple language of illuminated signage to question the historic idea that there was ever a 'New World'.
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 and so some of those who returned to England had to find ways to make peace with the place they sought to escape from.
By using three words (NO, NEW, WORLDS) the installation invites viewers to ask complex questions about themselves, the planet and the legacy of the pivotal journeys made by the Mayflower and the Speedwell. It uses modular, recyclable technology that has the capacity to be re-written in the future and its real-time, randomly generated sequence of iterations enables the sculpture to embody an intuitive voice of its own.
Still/Moving asked Intercity to create a bespoke typeface for the installation, as well as a wider identity system including the design of various signage and printed elements.
'Speedwell' was illuminated 24hrs a day on the Mount Batten breakwater through September, October and November 2020; reflecting the duration of the Mayflower's voyage. Main image and short film by Still/Moving. All other photography by Dom Moore