Acoustic Arts designed and built an outdoor sound garden for the Horniman Museum in London. The installation featured several interactive musical sculptures inspired by the museum’s extensive collection of folk instruments from around the world.
The project was undertaken in association with Metal Media, a Bristol-based company who collaborated closely on the designs and produced the steelwork for all the frames and foundations. The designs were developed over several months through regular consultation with the Horniman Museum team and visits to the site.
The tuned percussion instruments include chimes, xylophones, paddle pipes and scrapers that can be played by all visitors using the permanently attached sliding beaters. The structures are made from a combination of steel and reclaimed English oak, crafted into distinctive, sculptural forms. The oak frames have been hand-built by woodworkers specialising in traditional timberframe techniques. The large scale and industrial construction make the designs extremely hardwearing and suitable for multiple players.
The design team was fronted by John Walls who set up and now directs Acoustic Arts. For John, this project had a special resonance since it was an inspirational visit to the Horniman Museum 30 years previously that had encouraged him to start making musical instruments from found materials and which led, ultimately, to the foundation of Acoustic Arts.
The instruments have been in place for over 3 years and have become an established family attraction. They have prompted enquiries from around the world and their images feature prominently on social media.