Sound Sculpture Trail for Peel Park

Photo: Sound Sculpture Trail for Peel Park

The 2021 Spring term found DIY working in partnership with the Salford Ranger Team and Friends of Peel Park. We made a Sound Sculpture Trail that will enhance visitors’ experience of this lovely Salford green space!

Art Inspiration:

Using the sculptures in Peel Park as inspiration, DIY members created and recorded a series of six poems. These are now part of Peel Park’s new Audio Sculpture Trail.

Sound artist Dan Steele of Unlimited Headroom created the sound design and music for the Sculpture Trail and DIY held a small launch event with Friends of Peel Park in June of 2021. The trail is now available for anyone to use. Listen to the soundtracks on Salford Council’s website or look out for the QR codes when you are in the park.

Here is a taste of what we have created:

Monument to the Third Millennium

Looking back
Pollution in the Irwell
Dirty smoky factories
Poison in the water
Choking wildlife

Smelly sewage
Ugly Rubbish
It stinks!
Don’t go in the river!
It will make you ill

Looking forward to the
Beautiful Irwell
Fresh green water
Salmon can swim in
Taking care
Of our environment.

Golden fish
Dancing in the river
Birds chatting,
Smell the flowers
Animals can drink and swim.

This poem, ‘Monument to the Third Millennium’, was written in response to the sculpture of the same name created by Adrian Moakes. The steel sculpture depicts a swirling shoal of fish swimming up through a vortex of water. It was commissioned in 1999 to celebrate the river Irwell’s recent regeneration, including the reappearance of fish and wildlife.

How we did it

We thought you might like to know how DIY Theatre Company developed the Peel Park Sculpture Trail whilst working remotely during the pandemic. All of our sessions were run over Zoom. Here are some examples of the processes we used:

Considering the past, considering the future

As Covid restrictions meant DIY members were not able to visit Peel Park, we worked from some great photos of the sculptures taken by Claire Hignett. These photos became the main stimulus for our storytelling, supplemented by research into the sculptures themselves. Adrian Moakes’ sculpture ‘Monument to the Third Millennium’ was a response to the history of the River Irwell. We wanted to think about the past and the future of the Peel Park area too. Using historical photographs of the River Irwell we thought about what the river was like in the past; how did it look, smell and taste? What might it be like in the future?

Creating Our Perfect Park

We all thought of what we would have in our perfect park for our poem “My Perfect Park” inspired by the Quatrefoil sulpture in Peel Park.

  1. We thought of sounds and actions to illustrate the things we wanted in our perfect park.
  2. We then ‘built these’ ideas up by adding description – so if we wanted a pond in our perfect park, what kind of pond should it be? How could we make it perfect?
  3. We created a ‘human machine’ of our perfect park – agreeing an order for each person’s contribution, (physical, verbal or both).
  4. We even used an onscreen whiteboard to draw a picture of our perfect park. We decided what would be there and where everything would be located.

Hot Seating

We ‘hot seated’  Joseph Brotherton, Salford’s first MP, and who is represented by a sculpture in Peel Park.

  1. We did some background research.
  2. We all thought of questions we would like to ask the statue of Joseph Brotherton.
  3. We took it in turns to ask someone playing the character of Joseph Brotherton
  4. We took turns to play the character of Joseph Brotherton.

Some examples of the questions we asked were:

  • Question: Why did you want no child labour?
  • Question: Why Did You Want to Become an MP?
  • Question: Why did you set up Peel Park?
  • Question: How long were you a vegetarian?

Sound Recording

As part of our Digital Inclusion Project DIY has now distributed iPads to most members. We spent a lot of time working out how best to record voices using Voice Memos and learning how to send recordings via email. This is now a new digital skill to add to the list of things we’ve learnt this year!

Next Step – Outside!

This Sculpture Trail work will be the foundation of DIY’s new ‘Inside: Outside’ project. This will begin in June 2021 and will be our first face-to-face project for over a year. Inside: Outside will involve a period of coming together after a long period of separation, as well as an artistic exploration around the themes of institutions / lockdown and release / freedom. DIY artists will work with experienced practitioners in Outdoor Arts to develop new skills and ways of working before creating “moments” in the park that will be shared with small audiences.

Reconnecting with Peel Park

Alongside this project visual artist Claire Hignett has been creating a document called  “Resource – Reconnecting with Peel Park – Activity Spaces for DIY Theatre”. This has been a micro-commission funded through Heritage Lottery and Peel Park SCON micro-grant. Claire has been focusing on Peel Park as a rich, accessible and inclusive setting for creating activities to reconnect for DIY Theatre Company Members. It is a great resource for staff and members to use when working in Peel Park as a place to re-connect creatively and safely once we can meet face to face.

Find this Peel Park resource on DIY’s Resources Page 



DIY would like to thank our partners Peel Park Rangers and Friends of Peel Park and of course Arts Council England for their support.

Arts Council England logo