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The University of Southampton

Artist teams up with scientists to create acoustics sculpture

Published: 2 August 2011Origin: Engineering

Acoustics expertise from the University of Southampton influenced the design of a sculpture that goes on display for the first time this weekend (6th August 2011).

Artist Luke Jerram created Aeolus - Acoustic Wind Pavilion following collaboration with scientists including Dr Tim Waters from the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR). 

Launching at Lyme Park, near Manchester, on Saturday 6th August, Aeolus is described as an exploration of acoustics, wind and architecture. It was inspired by a trip to Iran, where the artist met a Qanat desert well-digger who spoke of "the wells singing in the wind". The sculpture is named after Aeolus, ruler of the four winds in Greek mythology.

From a distance, it will appear as an imposing shining arch supporting over three hundred stainless steel tubes. Standing below the arch, the mirror-lined tubes will draw in imagery from the landscape, distorting and replicating the surrounding environment. Luke explains that when the wind blows and the sun moves across the sky, these movements will be experienced anew through Aeolus both visually and audibly, as the sculpture will produce a beautiful and mysterious sound.

Tim, Senior Lecturer in Vibration Engineering, says: "Engineering is often a creative as well as scientific pursuit.  The diverse field of acoustics, and the Aeolus project in particular, illustrate just how creative engineering can be."

An associated outreach programme has been designed to inspire and excite the public about engineering and acoustics, art and architecture, offering hands-on activities for all ages and all levels of knowledge.

Funding for Aeolus was provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Arts Council England (ACE). Global engineering and design consultancy Arup provided structural engineering design services for the sculpture, and the project is sponsored by stainless steel company Outokumpu.

Luke says: "Creating Aeolus has been the most challenging and rewarding of all my artworks made to date. It's been amazing to have had the support of a great team and so many organisations to make Aeolus come into being."

Aeolus will be touring the UK this summer and is scheduled to appear at Lyme Park, Salford Quays and the Eden Project in Cornwall. For more information, visit

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