The Bell Tree
Step into a magical environment this spring. Deep in the heart of Speke Hall's woodland is an ancient oak tree which has been transformed by award winning artist Serena Korda into a sculptural sound installation with over 300 ceramic mushroom bells. Inspired by the folklore of the native bluebells that grow beneath its branches, The Bell Tree celebrates the dark side of the fairy kingdom.
Stand in front of The Bell Tree, watch the bells move in the breeze and then, through listening to the soundscape audio on your phone, immerse yourself in the ringing of bluebells played by the bell ringers of Garston St. Michael’s Church. These melodic sounds are accompanied by an angry band of fairies, performed by local choir Mostly Madrigals and a capella group Mouthful.
If you prefer not to download the soundscape, you can stream it live while you're in the woodland by pressing play on the clip below. We recommend listening through headphones to be fully immersed in the experience.
What Is The Bell Tree?
The Bell Tree explores the spirit of this ancient site and the power of myth embodied in this most protected of English flowers. Symbolic of constancy, sorrow and grief, the bluebell has over seventy nicknames that originate from different parts of the UK including Blue Bonnets and Dead Men’s Bells. There is a morbid charm to this delicate and fleeting plant; poisonous, allegedly unlucky if picked and whose chimes can only be heard by fairies. Discover the spirit of nature through this immersive artwork and experience a different side of Speke's history.
You can discover the tree in the semi-ancient Clough woodland behind the hall, where it will weather and change with the seasons. From March 2019 you'll also be able to listen to a sister piece of soundscape in Speke Hall's inner courtyard which will explore centuries of overheard secrets.
Who Created It?
Award-winning artist Serena Korda created the installation and soundscape. Her work includes performance, sound and sculpture, including the eye-catching ceramic mushrooms featured in the The Bell Tree. Serena's work reconsiders aspects of tradition in our lives, under-explored feminist narratives - herstories- and the alternative histories of folklore and witchcraft. She is the 2016-17 Norma Lipman & BALTIC Fellow in Ceramic Sculpture at Newcastle University, and has curated the Daughters of Necessity exhibition at The Hepworth, choosing ceramic works from their collection which are sited alongside her own.
We'll be working in partnership with renowned Liverpool arts venue, Bluecoat, on this project. Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts is the oldest in the UK. Their landmark building in the heart of the city centre is home to a year-round programme of exhibitions, music, dance, literature, live art and heritage events.
Step into their courtyard garden and discover a smaller installation created by Serena.
Trust New Art
Trust New Art is the National Trust's programme connecting people to places through contemporary arts. Speke Hall hosted an installation from artist Alice May Williams in 2016 and we're delighted to welcome Serena Korda to Speke in 2018 & 2019.