Crowds of people yesterday (Sunday, September 16) enjoyed playing special instruments created to help celebrate the opening of the region’s newest bridge.

Artist Di Mainstone created Wonderloopers from leftover materials from Sunderland’s Northern Spire and 14 of her creations were the centrepiece for a celebratory event commissioned by Sunderland Culture and delivered in partnership with Sunderland City Council, the Cultural Spring and Creative Fuse North East.

A thousand ticket-holders were each allocated 50-minutes to ‘play’ the bridge through the Wonderloopers which mixed kaleidoscopic mirrors, motion sensors and a soundscape composed by musicians Architects of Rosslyn. The free tickets for yesterday’s event had been snapped up within hours of being made available.

The Wonderloopers were created from cast-off pieces of the plastic used to encase the Northern Spire’s huge steel cables. They were designed and produced at the University of Sunderland’s FabLab, inspired by two hackathons attended by musicians, engineers and technologists to help Di explore different ways to play the bridge and create instruments from the casing cut-offs.

Corinne Kilvington, Producer for the event on behalf of Sunderland Culture, said: “We had some great feedback from the hundreds of visitors. The Wonderloopers gave them a unique experience and an opportunity to explore the bridge from a different perspective – visually from the images created from the kaleidoscopic effect of the instrument’s mirrors, and audibly through the brilliant soundscape created by Architects of Rosslyn and the interviews recorded by Di.

“The day felt very chilled, with people having plenty of time and space to enjoy each one of the 14 installations. It was great to see so many families enjoy the event together.”

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director of Sunderland Culture, added: “We’ve been genuinely delighted with the response we’ve had from people of all ages who have engaged with the Wonderloopers. Each of the Wonderloopers had their own personality and people were discussing and comparing the stories and dreams they’d heard through each of the portals.

“People came from all over the north east and from further afield to explore Wonderloopers – one visitor had come from New York, and said they’d loved the experience.”

Sunderland student Ellie Clark, 19, was among the crowds of visitors: “I loved it. It was something a bit different and I enjoyed stopping at each of the Wonderloopers and hearing the stories and music. It was a great way to explore the bridge.”

Wonderloopers was commissioned by Sunderland Culture as part of a Great Place project to work with communities on both sides of the Wear to celebrate the opening of the new crossing. Sunderland Culture secured funding last year for the Great Place Scheme, a joint fund from Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund to put arts, culture and heritage at the heart of communities.

The Northern Spire, which opened to traffic on August 29, was closed from 11pm on Saturday to midnight last night.

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