Giving a voice to silent spectators

11 April 2017

Giving a voice to silent spectators

They have watched over our town for generations. Now Bedford’s statues will have their say thanks to smartphone technology.

Thanks to arts producers Sing London, a few Bedford organisations and some famous faces – seven iconic statues across the town will come to life this spring.

From April 11th you will be able to pass a Talking Statue, swipe your phone on a nearby plaque  and get a call back from John Bunyan, Big Band leader Glenn Miller or one of our five metre tall silver faces.

“Most of us hardly notice the statues around us,” said Sing London director Colette Hiller. “Talking Statues aims to change this. After bringing statues in London, Manchester, Leeds and Chicago to life, we are delighted that the statues of Bedford will now be able to make their views heard too.

“And each statue has a story to tell.”

The project has been funded by The Harpur Trust and town centre businesses via the Love Bedford Business Improvement District (BID), and in partnership with Bedford Borough Council, The Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, The Place Theatre, Life Box Theatre Company and Bedford Central Library.

Award winning comedian and Bromham lad Matt Berry will be lending his voice to the Bunyan statue. He said: “Being born in Bedford, the John Bunyan statue was an integral part of growing up. Even if you didn’t know who he was, you couldn’t fail to notice him.”

The Place Theatre and Lifebox Theatre Company also worked with inmates at HM Prison Bedford to write a monologue for prison reformer John Howard. This will be voiced by Bond actor Colin Salmon.

Laura Pottinger, manager of The Place Theatre said: “As theatre practitioners we love a good story so we were delighted to be invited to help create new stories for these important local landmarks.”

Bedford storytellers Mark Steinhardt and Richard Mann give a voice to the memorial on the Embankment and Corn Exchange’s Glen Miller statue. Richard said: “The Talking Statues are a fantastic idea. They are a great way to learn bite-size local history in an interactive way.”

Christina Rowe, director of BedfordBID said: “We were delighted to co-sponsor this project which demonstrates how Love Bedford businesses are supporting tourism initiatives. It’s certainly going to get people talking about Bedford.”

To hear the statues speak, just pay them a visit. Swipe your phone on the QR coded plaque, or type the short url on the plaque into your phone browser and the statue will call you back – and it’s all free.

The statues will start talking today and will talk for at least one year. You can find out more on the Talking Statues website: www.talkingstatuesbedford.co.uk

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