Sherlock Holmes, looking down on the rest of us from his plinth outside Baker Street station, has started talking to people. He found his voice thanks to Talking Statues, a project launched by Sing London in August 2014. Thirty-five statues in London and Manchester are now talking. Four more statues will follow soon.
To hear the statues talk, you need a smartphone. When you are close to a sculpture with a Talking Statues sign, follow the instructions and the statue will call your phone.
I took a call from Sherlock Holmes – in reality a monologue written by Anthony Horowitz and recorded by actor Ed Stoppard. Holmes talks about his hat and pipe and complains about people leaning on him while they wait outside the station. Within seconds I was convinced that all statues everywhere should have this sort of commentary. Especially if it comes with a touch of imagination and humour.
The technology works. You just listen to your phone, and no loudspeakers are needed, which makes it a private, voluntary thing. I mean, I enjoyed my call from the great detective, but if I commuted to work through Baker Street station, I wouldn’t want to hear him through a loudspeaker every morning.
A few days later I was in Broadgate, London EC2 to see “Leaping Hare on Crescent and Bell” by Barry Flanagan.
The Leaping Hare is still waiting for a voice. Talking Statues and Audible.co.uk have launched a competition to find stories for the hare and for three other statues. I’ve already submitted my entry. You’ve got three weeks to write something better before the closing date of 17 October 2014. Start thinking about what a Leaping Hare might have to say, if it could speak. The rules are on the Talking Statues website. Good luck!