Singing bowl at Lancaster Priory

Hilli McManus and the singing bowl at Lancaster Priory.
Hilli McManus and the singing bowl at Lancaster Priory.

A singing bowl filled with lullabies has found its way to Lancaster Priory.

Local Artist Hilli McManus designed and made the piece ‘The Lullaby Bowl’ as a temporary sound installation for Huddersfield International Contemporary Cultural Music Festival.

However, a window of opportunity to ‘smuggle it over the border’ arose unexpectedly, so the artist contacted the Priory to see if they might enjoy hosting it for a while before it heads back to Yorkshire in November.

Hilli said: “The reaction from the Priory was hugely positive and they have welcomed the opportunity to display my artwork with open arms and hearts.”

Back in February Hilli was approached through an old contact, singer Supria Nagaranjan, based in Dewsbury at Manasamitra Theatre.

Supria needed an installation to visually represent the lullabys she had collected and sung from right around the world.

Composer Duncan Chapman then worked with Hilli to get the best from the sound recordings.

All the sound equipment is hidden away in the base of the piece.

The shape and form of the bowl was inspired by the noise of the sea and beach.

The lullabys are partly revealed in never-ending ripples, swirling Swedish, Tamil, Arabic, Norse, and Hindu around its bronzed surface.

Hilli said: “I wanted the piece to have an ancient quality and a solidity about it, although it is actually carved out of polystyrene, and the stone base is plywood to resonate the sound.”

Hilli has lived in Lancaster for 25 years and although her career as a theatre craftsperson has taken her worldwide from USA to Spain to France, it has meant much of her time has been spent working and living away from home.

Originally from Newcastle, Hilli studied ceramic design at Middlesex and went on to work at the National Theatre and English National Opera as a properties maker.

Currently she has printwork on display at the Exchange Gallery in Morecambe and has just ended a second exhibition of paintings at the Whale Tail Cafe in Lancaster.

She said: “Although it doesn’t show, the thoughts behind this piece, the working in tandem with a singer and a sound artist, have sprung from a lifetime of experience in the theatre and the arts world.”

To find out more about the singing bowl visit

For more information about Hilli’s work and for commission enquiries, contact