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Revealed: Tower Bridge is really a giant musical instrument that you can play

PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:26 03 January 2020

Tower Bridge... tuning in to your musical imagination. Picture: Di Mainstone

Tower Bridge... tuning in to your musical imagination. Picture: Di Mainstone

Di Mainstone

This is Tower Bridge as you’ve never seen it before — a giant musical instrument which artist and film-maker Di Mainstone is inviting anyone to “play”.

Tower Bridge is open... artist Di Mainstone's 'uplifting' giant musical instrument. Picture: Mike BrookeTower Bridge is open... artist Di Mainstone's 'uplifting' giant musical instrument. Picture: Mike Brooke

It is the latest art commission to celebrate the 125th anniversary of London's famous iconic bridge, which goes on show later this month.

Di has made a Time Bascule video using the giant chamber mechanism with an echo of climate change.

But she draws inspiration from one of the first women to work on the bridge, Hannah Griggs, who cooked for the Bridge Master and his family from 1911 to 1915.

You wouldn't want to stand in this chamber when the huge overhead counterweight bascule comes down as Tower Bridge lifts open... Picture: Tower BridgeYou wouldn't want to stand in this chamber when the huge overhead counterweight bascule comes down as Tower Bridge lifts open... Picture: Tower Bridge

"I was determined to give a greater insight into the story of Hannah Griggs," Di explains.

"It was inspiring to meet her descendants and bring her personal history to life in such a wonderful location."

Di's film is a wider discussion around climate change, using the bascule counterweight mechanism that lifts the bridge "as a metaphor for harmony and the delicate balance of our ecosystem".

Muscians take a chance inside the bascule chamber... that Tower Bridge won't lift open! Docklands Sinfonia performing in  2015. Picture: Steve StillsMuscians take a chance inside the bascule chamber... that Tower Bridge won't lift open! Docklands Sinfonia performing in 2015. Picture: Steve Stills

The film has Hannah Griggs as musical maestro plucking the strings of the iconic structure like a giant musical instrument, mixing the real with the imagined, in a specially-composed musical narrative.

Di Mainstone seems to specialise in creating "playable bridges". She has created music from the Brooklyn Bridge, Clifton Suspension Bridge and most recently Sunderland's new Northern Spire Bridge.

Her Tower Bridge artwork is on show from January 29 until mid-March as part of an "immersive exhibition" in the preserved Victorian engine rooms, where the audience steps into the heart of a fairytale to hear the "hidden sounds" of London's defining landmark.

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