The magical musical instruments created to help celebrate the opening of the north east’s newest bridge will be played for the first time this Sunday (September 16).

Wonderloopers have been created from leftover materials from Sunderland’s Northern Spire and are the invention of artist Di Mainstone, who was commissioned to work with communities on both sides of the Wear on the IN-SPIRE project, which will celebrate the opening of the new crossing.

Fourteen of the instruments will be installed on the bridge for visitors to interact with. The Wonderloopers will invite people to ‘play’ the bridge in a unique way, using kaleidoscopic mirrors, motion sensors and soundscapes composed by musicians Architects of Rosslyn.

The instruments have been manufactured by FabLab Sunderland out of cast-off plastic casings that cover the bridge’s huge steel cables.

Di hosted two hackathon events at FabLab which were attended by musicians, engineers and technologists to help her explore different ways to play the bridge and create instruments from the casing cut-offs.

Corinne Kilvington, Producer for the event on behalf of Sunderland Culture, said: “For one day only our Wonderlooper event will give people a unique perspective of Northern Spire. People will be able to wander the bridge appreciating its scale and beauty and experiencing it as they’ll never be able to do so again.

“Wonderloopers are sonic kaleidoscopes, musical portals that allow the wind racing down the Wear to play the cables of the Northern Spire and at the same time release the stories and dreams of communities from both sides of the bridge.”

A thousand tickets for the event were snapped up within hours of being made available, but there is still a chance for you to be involved as a ‘Portal Keeper.’ Volunteers are needed to look after each portal from 10am to 7pm on Sunday – no experience is necessary and training will be given. If you’re interested, contact [email protected] for more information.

Wonderlooper is a ticket-only event and Northern Spire will be closed to traffic from 11pm on Saturday (15th) to midnight on Sunday. City Council Leader Coun Graeme Miller will give a welcome speech at 9am on Sunday before pre-booked members of the public will get their chance to explore the bridge and the Wonderloopers.

Ticket holders are asked to arrive 15 minutes before their allotted time.

Di has already ‘played’ New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, Omaha’s Bob Kerrey Bridge and Bristol’s Suspension Bridge, among others. However, the plastic casing around the Northern Spire’s steel cables dampened the sounds from her ‘Human Harp’ instrument used to pluck or twang bridges’ steel cables. So instead, Di created the Wonderloopers out of cut-offs from the plastic casings.

“The Wonderloopers will channel, mix and meld the dreams, hopes and visions of Sunderland’s people via the city’s newest futuristic beacon – the Northern Spire. Once the visitor is inside the Wonderlooper they will see the bridge fragmenting and hear magical soundscapes, created from interviews with members of the community,” explained Di.

For more information on Wonderloopers, go to

The IN-SPIRE project has been commissioned as part of Sunderland Culture’s Great Place project and is being delivered in partnership with Sunderland City Council, the Cultural Spring and Creative Fuse North East.

The Northern Spire opened to traffic on August 28.

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