LONDON.- The British Library
announced that the statue of Isaac Newton by artist and sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi on the British Librarys piazza has been given a voice as part of the exciting new project, Talking Statues.
Over the next year visitors and passers-by can swipe their smartphones on a nearby tag and get a call back from the famous scientist as part of the arts organisation Sing Londons new initiative. Talking Statues will see 35 different statues across London and Manchester brought to life by the voices of such actors and public figures as Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Paxman and Prunella Scales.
Acclaimed writer Timberlake Wertenbaker has written Newtons monologue which has been animated by the actor Simon Russell Beale.
Timberlake Wertenbaker says: For me, the problem with statues was always that you could go up to them, walk around them, but they never spoke. I'm so glad that's finally changing and they've started to talk.
Actor Simon Russell Beale says: I use the British Library a lot and Newton has always fascinated me. He changed the world. He was a difficult man. I feel privileged to animate him.
Sing London have commissioned some of the nations most celebrated writers to pen monologues for a range of iconic statues. The actors and writers behind the statues include:
◾Patrick Stewart as the haunting voice of the Unknown Soldier at Paddington Station
◾Jeremy Paxman defending free speech as John Wilkes in Fetter Lane
◾Baker Streets Sherlock Holmes, as imagined by Anthony Horowitz
◾Tom Conti as Lincoln in Manchesters Lincoln Square
◾Nicholas Parsons as Samuel Johnsons famous cat, Hodge, in Gough Square
◾Coronation Streets David Neilson propping up the bar as LS Lowry
◾Prunella Scales as Queen Victoria in Manchesters Piccadilly Gardens
◾Hugh Dennis as a goat in Spitalfields
◾Helen Lederer as Dick Whittingtons ratting cat
◾Alan Johnson MP as Rowland Hill, inventor of the Penny Black, in the City of London
◾Simon Russell Beale as Isaac Newton at the British Library
◾Maisie Williams as the Broad Family daughter at Broadgate City of London
Talking Statues competition
Sing London and the Library are also launching a public competition to give William Shakespeare a voice. Budding writers now have the chance to write a monologue for the statue of Shakespeare in the Librarys entrance hall, which will then be animated by an actor yet to be announced. The competition closes on 17 October 2014. Participants can enter online here.
Talking Statues is the creation of Sing London, the non-profit arts organisation whose projects aim to lift the publics spirit. Previous projects include filling London with street pianos and Ping! - the public ping pong project that has placed over 1000 ping-pong tables across England.
Colette Hiller, Creative Director of Sing London, says: Most of us hardly notice the statues around us. Talking Statues aims to change this. They may be cast in stone but their voices have been set free. We are privileged to have a stellar line up of writers and actors who have put themselves in the shoes - or in some cases the paws! - of these statues.
The statue of Newton in Bronze was created by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi in 1995, inspired by William Blakes monoprint of Newton plotting the immensity of the Universe. The Statue was donated to the Library by the Foundation for Sport and the Arts.
Talking Statues will be evaluated by the School of Museum Studies at Leicester University. The projects research findings will be made freely available to museums and cultural institutions.