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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Immersive Watergrove, an outdoor, site specific work, was a great success!


Visual Artist Babs Smith and Sound Artist Sophie Cooper’s Immersive Watergrove was a great success and had to be extended for a week in order that everyone who wanted to see it could get there!

Immersive Watergrove was an outdoor, site specific work exploring themes of climate change, water usage, local history, and new technology. The first collaboration between Visual Artist Babs Smith @babsmithart and Sound Artist Sophie Cooper @sophiecooper_music - bringing together their separate practices of augmented reality and sound design creating a completely unique, audio-visual experience that was situated around Watergrove Reservoir over August 2023, funded by The Culture Coop Rochdale and Help Musicians. This project was also supported by Ebor Studio in Littleborough who hosted an in-house exhibition of the work to coincide with the on-location installation . .

Immersive Watergrove vividly highlighted the very visual and real effects of climate change on the area’s water supply inspired by the reappearance of the former community’s remnants during the drought of 2022. By positioning four viewing posts around the reservoir visitors were invited to observe the site by using an app called Artivive that triggered augmented reality images and sound highlighting four topics associated with each location.

Site topics and titles:

1. The Mothers, how people personally engage with the reservoir today.

2. The Wave Wall, imagines an alternative reality inhabited by previous tenants of the site.

3. Marled Earth: Climate change impact and water loss.

4. Hades: the importance of water preservation and how the reservoir serves us.

Although the exhibition experienced two thefts of posts and some vandalism, they managed to keep the exhibition intact for four weeks with walks/talks and demonstrations to many different groups.

Visitors downloaded the Artivive app and held their mobile phones in front of each of the four images situated around Watergrove Reservoir which activated the sounds and images created by the artists and facilitated a short recording which could be used on social media #immersivewatergrove.

There were lots of oohs and aahs as viewers physically reached and moved in the space, many expressing how meditative they found the experience.

Immersive Watergrove was so successful that it has created further opportunities which could see other reservoirs hosting art next year.

Huge congratulations to Babs, Sophie and Gallery Frank, Ebor Studios.

Visit Instagram pages: @babssmithart to see how the work around the reservoir functioned.

Watergrove Reservoir, Wardle Road, Ramsden Road, Wardle, Greater Manchester, OL12 9EN

Gallery Frank, Ebor Studio, William Street, Littleborough, Lancashire, OL15 8JP

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