A brand-new exhibition by a Lancaster University Fine Art senior lecturer has just launched a whole programme of activity, at the National Trust Quarry Bank, Cheshire, exploring the legacy of the industrial revolution.
Entitled ‘Gathering Downstream’, the exhibition, by artist Dr Jen Southern, launched ‘Unintended Consequences’, a programme that will encourage visitors to consider what everyone can do to create a more sustainable future.
Working in partnership with digital arts commissioning agency FutureEverything, the artwork, created with the help of machine learning technology, takes the form of five films, that are embedded in a river-like installation inside Quarry Bank’s historic cotton mill.
Each short film focuses on a different aspect of Quarry Bank’s landscape and its relationship to water, inspired by the River Bollin that lies at the heart of the estate and which brought Samuel Greg (1759-1834) and his cotton mill to Quarry Bank in 1784.
Dr Southern said: “Quarry Bank is a fascinating place to work with, to find historical relationships between natural systems like waterpower, industrial technologies and human lives, that have shaped our future environments, for better and for worse.
“The work will ask, what can humans and machines learn about the impacts of climate change and ecological emergency from the trees, meadows, moss, rocks and river at Quarry Bank?”
Dr Southern is a visual artist who collaborates with artists, technologists, and members of the public to produce live installations that combine material and digital experience.
For more than 25 years her art practice and research have engaged with the mobility of people, technologies, animals, plants, and micro-organisms and has been exhibited widely in the UK and internationally.
Dr Southern is also a senior lecturer in Fine Art at Lancaster University and an associate director of the Centre for Mobilities Research.
With its 18th century cotton mill, workers’ homes, and a grand house built for the wealthy Greg family, Quarry Bank is the most complete industrial revolution-era community in the world.
It represents the beginning of the industrial revolution that changed the world forever. Although the industrial revolution that Quarry Bank exemplifies is seen by many as a driver of progress and positive global change, it also saw a dramatic change in how people used the natural world.
The programme and exhibition, underpinned by research from the University of Manchester, will highlight the global and local impact of climate change and will inspire a call to action. Encouraging visitors to think about the changes they could make in their day-to-day lives that could make a difference to the environment.
General Manager at National Trust Quarry Bank Jo Hudson said: “We are delighted to be working with Jen and FutureEverything to deliver a project about an idea that is so important to our visitors, bringing them an experience they will be able to engage with in a very real way.
“At Quarry Bank we are making a positive change for nature. Our rangers and volunteers are going to extraordinary lengths to look after nature. From creating green corridors, and graded woodland, to planting 40,000 trees across 3 farms on the estate by 2024, including 100 native Black Poplars.”
Whilst experiencing the exhibition, visitors will also have the chance to explore the seasonal beauty of the gardens, ancient woodlands, and the wider estate. A chance to see first-hand the work being done to enhance nature and habitats at Quarry Bank.
The exhibition (open Monday to Sunday 10.30am until 5pm) runs until Friday 25 November 2022.