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Friday 30 September 2011

180° of Light show

photo by SteveRSVR
180° of Light is a laser installation linking water towers in Rothwell, Desborough and Corby in the British Midlands with laser beams to form a triangle, the alchemical symbol of water. The project is a part of a county-wide series of site specific artworks on  Northamptonshire's rivers, canals, waterways and water towers. There has already been an installation on Northamptonshire's Oxford canal and there will be a further installation at Sywell Reservoir in October. NESTA fellow Jo Fairfax and FLOW manager Graham Callister came up with the idea. Visible from the A14, the project is part of Igniting Ambition Festival and the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The lasers shine from 7.30 to 9.30 pm until 2nd October 2011. Its website gives a raison d'etre:

This site-specific artwork highlights the architectural beauty, science and necessity of water towers in today’s society. Among their many uses, water towers provide pressure to maintain the safety of the water supply, without which water may not spray from a tap with sufficient FLOW.

By using several strikingly bold lasers, this site-specific, large scale installation produces a formal dynamic between the imposing circular drums of the water towers and the stunning, elevated triangle of light which unites them. Dominating the Northamptonshire landscape, 180° of Light encourages conversations both of architectural form and journey.

The artist, Jo Fairfax, described the installations:

“Creating a giant laser triangle hovering in the sky makes me smile. Each water tower forms the corner of the laser triangle creating a conversation in form - the circle of the water drum with the triangle of light. The journey of light is evident and the journey of water is implied, another conversation. The moving striated visual effect created as the laser light breaks down over distance implies a sense of journey. The water tower drum containing water held high, water reader to enter and exit, implies a journey. The two meet either side of the water drum. Both dynamic, one in its speed and break down, the other in its potential and pressure. Water and light, like siblings with a story to tell”.

Key funders included Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK, Northamptonshire County Council, Anglian Water and Breath of Fresh Air, East Midlands.

More information about FLOW

BBC news slideshow

Here's map of the laser 'field' to aid viewing:

View flow towers in a larger map

BWTAS context:

Illuminating water towers has a long history and was commonplace when water towers were novel and objects of civic pride. The Thorpe Hamlet water tower in Norwich was illuminated for a year to commemorate George V's silver jubilee in 1935. A couple of generations later, illumination of towers was used as way of reasserting their monumental quality and renewing civic pride as part of regeneration schemes. Cranhill Arts Project in Glasgow illuminated their local tower a vibrant green with white spotlights and nearby the Craigend water towers were illuminated as part of Glasgow's reign as the European City of Culture. The city council's lighting strategy webpage asserts: "Good lighting helps to increase vitality and improve ambience. It contributes to a sense of identity and place, makes for a safer, friendlier environment and also supports and complements other regeneration initiatives."


Herbert Skardon said...

Almost a side question, but wondered if you knew if the Mousehold water tower in Norwich mentioned above, is the one in Thorpe Hamlet, which is nearish to Mousehold, or was it a different one (which no longer exists)?

Nat Bocking said...

I think it's Thorpe Hamlet.

Water tower names are tricky. The name on the plans or what they become known as isn't always same as the parish they are in, sometimes it's named by the road or the community they serve. The tower on the A1120 in Dennington is called Maypole Green.

Nat Bocking said...

... the tower in Maypole Green near Beccles is called Toft Monks...

Pie Master said...

The 'Thorpe Hamlet' tower is in in the parish of Mousehold and as is generally the case, named after the parish. This grand tower was built in 1933 so would have been only two years old and in prime condition to illuminate. Thankfully George Plunkett recorded it and his images can be seen here: