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Wind Organ by Ali Miharbi ‘sings’ in the Horniman Gardens

A new work by artist Ali Miharbi has been installed in the award-winning Horniman Gardens in Forest Hill, south London.

Inspired by the Horniman Museum and Gardens’ acclaimed collection of musical instruments, Miharbi’s Wind Organ takes the form of five 3-metre pipes – each designed with a whistle based on the acoustic properties of the vowels a, e, i, o and u – which ‘sing’ when played by the wind.

Co-commissioned by the Horniman and Delfina Foundation, with support from SAHA Association, the creation of Wind Organ follows Miharbi’s residency at Delfina earlier this year when Ali researched the Horniman’s collections and developed his ideas with the museum’s curators. 

The artwork is inspired by bamboo kite flutes/whistles, as well as aeolian bamboo-organs and wind organs from South-East Asia and the Pacific. Sound recordings and a film about its development can be seen in the Horniman’s Music Gallery.  

  • Ali_Miharbi_Wind_Organ_Horniman_300dpi (002), Delfina Foundation− © Delfina Foundation
    , Delfina Foundation

Ali Miharbi says: ‘Wind Organ is a continuation of my ongoing interest in the materiality of sound and information and its relationship with space. Building on my previous work on this, this co-commission gave me the opportunity to get out of the gallery space and experiment with the wind. I had already been conducting research about aeolian harps and other instruments played by the wind (inspired by those I had seen in the Horniman’s collection during my recent residency at Delfina Foundation), and I had the idea to connect the voice-like sounds, with which I had been experimenting, to an instrument played by the wind. Not only the musical instrument collection and the Gardens, but also other collections of the museum such as the natural history department, all resonated with these ideas.’

Tim Corum, Director Curatorial & Public Engagement, says: ‘Ali is an extraordinary artist who has thought deeply about our collections and developed a concept which he has then designed, tested and refined. The process has involved painstaking research into acoustics, materials and the human voice and has produced a beautiful and thought provoking new work, perfect for its setting against the London skyline.’

Wind Organ forms part of a series of Miharbi’s works related to the air and the voice, commissioned as part of Delfina Foundation's thematic programme Collecting as Practice.

Wind Organ can be seen and heard in the Horniman’s award-winning Gardens until 26 November 2017.

Visitors to the Horniman on Sunday 3 September can also enjoy a talk and tour about the installation and its links with the musical instrument collections, at the Horniman Mela, part of the Horniman’s Indian Summer season programming.

Entry to the Horniman Gardens and to the Music Gallery is free. Admission to the Horniman Mela on Sunday 3 September is free.