New 'Singing Tree' at Anne Hathaway's Cottage & Gardens

Powered by Raspberry Pi and a hug, a 'Singing Tree' which responds to your movement and touch to create a soundscape of music and verse was installed at Anne Hathaway's Cottage & Gardens on 19 March and will be available to visitors from 23 March.

22 March 2013

‘Greenwood’ as the tree is titled, will be created ‘in situ’ by Ludic Rooms’ digital artists Ashley Brown and Dominic Breadmore.  One of the trees in the historic orchard of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s wife, will be transformed into an interactive installation which is activated when anyone sits beneath or hugs the tree.   A series of sensors detect your presence and movement, triggering a magical soundscape inspired by Shakespeare’s poetry and by the setting of the Cottage in its beautiful gardens.  As you touch the tree, sounds emerge from tiny speakers embedded within organic sculptures hanging in the branches alongside subtly illuminated details.

‘Greenwood’: The Singing Tree will operate using Raspberry Pi, the credit-card size computer developed to help children to learn computer programming.

Ashley Brown explained, “’Greenwood’  is a bespoke creation especially for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s ‘Sounds in the Garden’ project, which invites people to experience the gardens in new, fun and creative ways.    The tree will continue to grow organically and digitally as we add more elements through Easter and beyond to reflect the changing seasons and the tree’s growth.”

‘Greenwood’: The Singing Tree and other Sounds in the Garden projects have been funded by the Happy Museum Project.

Abi Moore, Operations Manager at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens, said, “We are very excited about this innovative installation, which is bound to put a smile on people’s faces.  Our Sounds in the Garden project is all about making people happy and encouraging them to discover our gardens – and Shakespeare - in new ways.  The Singing Tree is a great way to connect today’s digital world with the pastoral world that Shakespeare knew here four centuries ago.”

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will hold a special reception on 11 April to launch the Singing Tree and other Sounds in the Garden projects.  These include the introduction of an enchanting musical tour of the Woodland Walk, to a soundtrack composed for the Trust by Peter Knight, one of Britain’s best known folk musicians (Steeleye Span and Gigspanner).    There is also a new giant willow sculpture of a musical stave, complete with musical notes and butterflies, one of the works for the willow sculpture trail commissioned from award winning artist Tom Hare.  With the help of local community groups, the Woodland Walk has also been planted with thousands of spring bulbs, and six clearances have been created to provide space for performances by local groups and schools during special events throughout the year.  There will be a community party at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens on 26 June.

Abi Moore said, “We are working to create a hub using the whole site which puts the community at the heart of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage &Gardens, and the Cottage at the heart of the community.”

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens will host a Cottage Garden Festival on 7 and 8 September, to showcase the work of craft and cottage businesses and groups from the region.