Airship Dreams Escaping Gravity
Till November 2021, Sir William Harpur Gallery, Bedford
Commissioned by BCA & Higgins Museum. In collaboration with Annie Bacon, Roland Denning, Dave Lynch, Roger Illingworth, Rob Strachan, Sam Wiehl.
An immersive audio-visual installation, weaving material generated in Unreal games software, 5:1 audio composition, choir, archive film, and interactive sculptural elements, accompanied by a catalogue and a curated exhibition in partnership with the local community, Higgins Curator Lydia Saul and Airship enthusiasts, visitors will discover community treasures, oral histories, artefacts, screened digital materials, animation, graphic design and young people’s responses to the themes.
Supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Bedford College, Harpur Trust and Airship Heritage Trust.
On Escaping Gravity
The airship acts as agent for a multi-layered metaphor, its vast surface, for the projection of ideas, memories and imaginations. The next big thing, a lighter than air future, as if science might lift us out of our current situation into a better one. Belief in the next, babies next step, trust in the future, curate the past in a small shed.
Science employed in the name of progress, engineering superiority, ingenuity, and determination. Endeavour itself an expression of continuing life force, cultured into a behaviour reminiscent of that encouraged in school. The high jump, better ways of doing things, research meets economics, domestic science. And none without risk of grazed knees or a souffle that will not rise. The R101, a gigantic innovation, tainted with hubris, collective adventure or at worst, organised labour for the benefits of a few who would take to the air, ending in a tragic fireball and with it the Imperial Airship Program.
Drummed up after the 1st world war to make Britain great again, nearly just in time for WW2. The appliance of science, a belief in itself, modern. Reach out for a new world beyond the immediate grasp of children’s fingers. A small boy, from a small town, on a small island, dreaming new vistas; we are the real time experiment, do not despair.