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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Wonderlooper, by Di Mainstone: Reinventing Sunderland through innovative art making

Suzy, O'Hara and Di, Mainstone (2018) Wonderlooper, by Di Mainstone: Reinventing Sunderland through innovative art making. New Wear Crossing Bridge, 16 Sep 2018, Sunderland, UK.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition


The New Wear Crossing is the first bridge to be built across the River Wear in the city for 40 years. It was opened by the Leader of Sunderland City Council in 2018. To celebrate its opening, Sunderland Culture, a newly formed, strategic organization responsible for seven of the city’s cultural venues, put a national call out for artists to create a new socially engaged artwork that would celebrate the bridge’s opening and help connect communities living on either side of it.

I curated and produced Wonderlooper (2018), the winning concept proposed by artist Di Mainstone, as part of my practice-based research programme for Creative Fuse North East, University of Sunderland.

Di is a multi-disciplinary artist who transforms suspension bridges into giant musical instruments by exploring ways to record, process and release the frequencies of suspension cables, enabling pedestrians to literally “play the bridge”. The artwork was commissioned by Sunderland Culture, fabricated by Fab Lab Sunderland and supported by Creative Fuse North East, University of Sunderland and Sunderland City Council.

The project deployed experimental art hack innovation methods that I had developed throughout my research trajectory, including Art Hacks, in order to inform its R&D process. The project used art-making to ‘fuse’ local perspectives and experiences from within the community together with specialist skills from industry, using the language and resources of innovation. We mobilised engineers, designers, musicians, programmers, artists and communities on either side of the bridge to collectively invent and make a series of prototypes, mechanical and digital devices that transformed the structure into a giant, musical immersive experience.

In forging novel relationships between key stakeholders in the city (government, university, cultural institutions, fabrication labs and communities), we were able to conceive and deliver a technically ambitious, public realm art experience that generated diverse opportunities for creative engagement with local communities.

Wonderlooper is a clear articulation of how arts-led innovation can help demonstrate a 21st century narrative that challenges popular, often negative perceptions of a regional, northern city in the process of reinvention.

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Regional Capitals- development based on culture. Russian and international experiences Conference, Russia 17 February 2021.pptx - Presentation
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More Information

Depositing User: Suzy O'Hara


Item ID: 13314

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for O'Hara Suzy: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2021 17:13
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2021 15:10