I recently made a nostalgic trip to Lancashire in the North of England. I’ve always loved walking on the Pennine hill range there because it is so wild and unspoiled, a place where you can feel free and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. I walked to the ‘Singing Ringing Tree’, a 3 metre high, wind-powered musical sculpture made of galvanised steel pipes, found high up on the moors above the town of Burnley. It was created by the talented Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu in 2006. It is a wind powered sound sculpture resembling a tree and makes a strange, discordant, choral sound as you approach it. It was particularly windy the day I walked by it and I must say I found the melodious sound to be very eerie, yet somewhat intoxicating. (‘Like witches singing’ my daughter said.)
It is a controversial work of art and some people say it is as bad as the many wind turbines you see around the hills in the area, but personally I think it is rather wonderful. I’m sure some people living in the time that Stonehenge was built muttered, ‘What the..?’ when they saw it rising from the earth. In recent years a series of sculptures called Panopticons, symbols of the so-called renaissance of the area, have been created as part of the East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network. (Penopticons are structures set up in places with beautiful scenic views)
In 2007 the Singing Ringing Tree won the prestigious National Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects for ‘architectural excellence’. Now, who am I to argue with that?
If you are in the area, it is well worth the trip. There are picnic tables at the Crown Point parking area, where the walk begins and the Singing Ringing Tree is just a short walk from there.