Group of people stand in a large tent illuminated by hazy pink lights.
Just So Festival, Cheshire

Between Stillness and Storm: On Tour and Looking for Volunteers

Now that summer is finally here (woo hoo) we thought we would take a look at one of our exciting new commissions ‘Between Stillness and Storm’ which is on tour throughout the festival season. The team are looking for volunteers to support the tour at Bluedot Festival, an award-winning festival of music, science, arts and culture, against the backdrop of the Jodrell Bank deep space observatory. An application form is available at the bottom of this blog.

Shape Arts’ Fiona Slater, who works on the Unlimited team, caught up with lead artist Aidan Moesby to find out more about his new sculptural installation, which generates audio and visual responses to changing weather conditions (although we are fairly confident that it’s going to be wall to wall sunshine from now on in!)…

FS – You have recently been co-commissioned by Unlimited Impact and the Northern Festival Network to create a new touring work for greenfield sites. How has this been developing and what can audiences expect to see over the summer?

AM – It was a case of ‘Wow! We’ve got the commission – now we just have to make it!’ Working outside is completely different to making work for inside – be that a white cube gallery, a hospital or an empty showroom. The scale is the major thing; something that can look quite large inside can easily get lost or appear smaller once it is outside. Needless to say, it’s been a massive learning curve. Thankfully I haven’t had to face that myself as there’s my collaborator Tim Shaw and Producer Kerry Harker.

The work has been designed so that it is active 24 hours a day – and it will be different every time you visit it. The weather is constantly changing, sometimes so subtly that you don’t notice, and the installation will reflect that change. There are elements which rely entirely on the wind and sun to become dynamic and produce audio. Weather balloons form the central architecture of the installation and during the night they will be illuminated from within reflecting the changing light conditions which occurred during the day. There are also text elements to reflect on the cultural aspects of the weather – be that folk sayings or quotes from the latest films or songs. We are using anemometers, solar cells and batteries to be as much off-grid as we can be.

Each time the work is shown, there will be different elements specifically for that site and that may include contact microphones, hydrophones or even umbrellas.

FS – The weather is a theme running through much of your work. So… What’s your fascination with the weather then? 

AM – What’s not to be fascinated about by the weather? I like being in it and I like watching it. It’s always changing. It affects how we remember things, or experience things – that rainy day at the beach where we still had candy floss or an endlessly sunny summer. There’s also the serious side – the climate change aspect which needs addressing and I think that affects how we feel too.

When we say we are feeling a bit under the weather, or they have a sunny personality, or my head is a bit foggy, or I’m only happy when it rains – we know what we mean, but we are using the language of weather as a metaphor. So I think of the external real weather and also the internal, more psychological weather we have. We can have our own forecasts.

It’s also a social ‘in’ with a stranger; a comment at the bus stop or on the train can start a conversation – it’s a national obsession. Who doesn’t like the Shipping Forecast? My favourite weather is the snow crisp on the ground, dry air and a good 10 degrees below freezing.

FS – You kick off the tour at Jodrell Bank with Blue Dot Festival (what an amazing line-up!) and have just launched a call-out for volunteers. Can you give us a bit more info on that role and what you are looking for?

AM – It’s amazing to be at Blue Dot, and for that to be our first festival with the new work ‘Between Stillness and Storm’. We are in the Galaxy Garden so it provides a self-contained space for the installation. We are looking for volunteers to invigilate the space. Working in pairs on four hour shifts, we are looking for people to make sure the installation operates as it should but mostly, to talk to people who are curious about it and want to ask questions about the why’s and the how’s and maybe even talk about the weather.

‘There will be some late shifts as the site is open until 4am. You may only be asked to do one of these and anyone working a ‘late shift’ will be given £20 towards their expenses. Ideally we are looking for people to arrive on the Thursday for the festival opening of Friday to Sunday and then leave on the Monday – however we are realistic and flexible. In return you’ll get a free ticket and camping for the festival and gain an insight into working on an outdoor art installation.

FS – Thanks Aidan! It sounds like an amazing opportunity.

If you are interested in volunteering to support the tour, download an application form here:

Between Stillness and Storm will tour to the following festivals from July:

7-9 July 2017 – Bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire

21-23 July 2017 – Underneath The Stars Festival, Cannon Hall Farm, Barnsley

28-30 July 2017 – Cloudspotting, Gisburn Forest

18-20 August 2017 – Just So Festival, Rode Hall, Cheshire

15-17 September 2017  – Ramsbottom Festival, Ramsbottom Cricket Ground