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Meet the ‘Human Harp’ set to make music in Sunderland

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Published on 21 March 2018

Artist Di Mainstone
Artist Di Mainstone

A ‘human harpist’ who will ‘play’ the North East’s newest bridge like a musical instrument will be discussing her plans at the University of Sunderland.

 Artist Di Mainstone will create mechanical and digital devices which will bow, twang and pluck the new Wear crossing in an arts spectacular this summer.

 And the artist, who has already ‘played’ New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, Omaha’s Bob Kerrey Bridge and Bristol’s Suspension Bridge, will be at the University on Friday, March 23, to take part in a ‘Digital Making’ showcase.

 Di said: “We will be discussing different ways of working with technology as part of a debate on the day.

 “I will also be talking a little bit about the project we will be doing on Northern Spire this summer.”

The music produced by Di on the bridge will accompany a specially-written anthem and community performance to celebrate the opening of Northern Spire.

 Di has a growing reputation for the ‘Human Harp,’ a musical device that ‘plays’ suspension bridges.

 “Imagine the Northern Spire as a 28-stringed harp, with the cables as strings. Each of the cables is of a different length and we’ll create a Sunderland scale and then physical and digital ways of playing that scale,” Di explained.

 But, before this summer’s event, Di will be at the ReCoding the Wall: Digital Making Showcase event in the FabLab at Sunderland Hope Street Xchange on Friday.

 The day aims to give visitors the chance to hear from some great ‘digital makers’ in the region, ask questions, discuss techniques, and be inspired.

 Over the next few weeks Di will also be meeting people from each of the five Wearside communities closest to the new bridge: Castletown, Millfield, Pallion, Southwick and St Anne’s ward.

 “During these sessions we’ll talk to people about their own background and experiences. We’ll use their stories to create a narrative that will inspire our score,” explained Di.

 Di added: “I’m really looking forward to being both at the University on Friday and this summer’s bridge event.”

  • The ReCoding the Wall: Digital Making Showcase event takes place at Hope Street Xchange, between 7pm and 9pm on Friday, March 23.