“When electricity prices prevent older people from heating their homes, and the River Thames is just down the road, why aren’t we using it to power our city?” was a question posed by a member of the Geezers Club at a senior centre in East London when I met the Geezers through an arts commission addressing the democratisation of technology’. Participants recollected developments in tidal and wave power in the 1980’s halted by the Thatcher government, then later emphasis on wind power, but observed that this island’s extensive water resources still remain relatively untapped.
Eight years on, work with the Geezers is still going strong. We have enlisted professional engineers, investigated how turbines might function on the Thames Flood Barrier, made use of a university prototyping laboratory, tested a small-scale turbine in the Thames, and are currently developing a streamwheel to aerate polluted water and support fish in the Lower Lea.
Along the way we have run renewable energy workshops with a secondary school, produced a wind-driven lightwork for an AgeUK roof, convinced the sheltered accommodation provider to consider alternative sources of power, held two exhibitions, spoken as a group at conferences and universities, and liaised with other seniors in Pittsburgh.
Why an art project? Only the arts have no other agenda than to make meaning, while also employing methodologies of creative production that bring together disparate ideas, people and concepts and, most importantly, an ability to hold the ensuing chaos until something new begins to emerge…
|Keywords||art, green energy, social practice, sustainability, renewable energy, socially engaged art practice|
|Conference||Feeding the Insatiable|