A sculpture that sings? Well, this is something you’ll like to see or let’s just say you’d rather like to ‘hear’ yourself. As aptly named, The Singing Ringing Tree is a unique wind powered musical sculpture near Burnley in the North West of England. It was designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu of Tonkin Liu in 2004 but was completed in 2006.
The Structure of The Singing Ringing Tree
The construction of the tree comprises of galvanised steel pipes of varying lengths stacked in layers. This Panopticon swirls to form the shape of a tree bending to lean into the directions of the prevailing wind. Due to this, it harnesses the energy of the wind to produce a slightly discordant and penetrating choral sound covering a range of several octaves. While some of the pipes here are primarily used as structural and visual elements, others have been cut across their width enabling the sound. The harmonic singing quality of the tree is produced by tuning the pipes according to length and the narrow slits on the underside of specific pipes.
Each time you sit under the tree, looking out through the wind, you will hear a different song, discordant and melancholy and intensely beautiful, all at the same time.
East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network (ELEAN)
The 3-metre tall construction is one of the four landmark art projects within the Panopticons arts and regeneration project. The project was created by the East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network and set up to erect a series of Panopticons (a term coined by philosopher Jeremy Bentham meaning “space or device providing a panoramic view), across East Lancashire as symbols of the renaissance of the area. Except for the Tree, these panopticons include; The Atom of Pendle, designed by Peter Meacock and Katarina Novomestska; the Colourfields in Blackburn, designed by Jo Rippon Architecture and artist Sophie Smallhorn; and the Haslingden Halo, by John Kennedy.
You’ll get to witness spectacular panoramic views of East Lancashire. Where: to the north, the wonderful view of Pendle Hill; to the east, a glimpse of the Cliviger wind turbines on the Yorkshire border. From its position high on Crown Point, you can also overlook the town of Burnley with the famous Turf Moor football stadium at its centre. On a clear day, you can even see the Bowland Fells, Pendle, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Great Whernside.
In June 2007, the sculpture won the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence. Ten years later in March 2017, a second version of the Tree built in the outskirts of Austin, Texas. Both, the original and the sister in Texas are some of the unique pieces of public art in the world.