London 2012 Olympics artwork to be floated on River Tyne

A MUSICAL floating water-wheel and millhouse will arrive on the Tyne next month.

Flow artwork which was commissioned to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic Games, and was put together by Amble Boat Company

A MUSICAL floating water-wheel and millhouse will arrive on the Tyne next month.

The ambitious artwork ‘Flow’, which was commissioned to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic Games, will be installed next to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge from March 25 throughout the spring and summer.

The artwork, which was put together in Amble, Northumberland, is a tidemill and uses a huge waterwheel to draw energy from the River Tyne’s current to power the mechanical musical instruments on board.

‘Flow’, which has been three years in development, was one of 12 public art commissions funded by the UK Arts Councils for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad as part of Artists taking the lead.

Commissions were selected from each of 12 areas of the UK to be part of a celebration of culture in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics.

The artwork is a collaboration between Owl Project, and art and music producer Ed Carter.

Mr Carter, who lives in Gateshead, said: “It is brilliant to see it all coming together, it has been nearly three years of work to get to this stage and to see it being a physical presence in Amble is a very exciting thing.”

It is designed to monitor the river’s environmental details, including how clear the water is, temperature and speed.

Musical instruments in the mill house will be hooked up to respond to the data, while visitors to the art work will also be able to play along.

The sounds created by the handcrafted instruments will respond to the changing nature of the River Tyne, using sensors to test how the water changes over the course of the tidal cycle.

“The instruments will be powered by the water, responding to the changing nature of the river,” said 34-year-old Mr Carter. “For example it will take samples of the river every hour and as the level of salt in the water changes, the music will change.

“Different instruments respond to different things, another response is to how much dirt there is in the water,” he said.

Visitors can also interact with the instruments, affecting the music they create.

‘Flow’ opens to the public on Sunday, March 25, with family activities and workshops hosted by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and onboard storytelling from Seven Stories.

In the evening ‘Flow’ will host jazz musicians Seb Rochford and Andy Sheppard, playing their own instruments and those built by the Owl Project onboard.

Mr Carter, who worked as project leader, added: “It’s really exciting to realise a project that brings together so many different art forms, and we’re very lucky to have worked with such a huge range of inspiring, talented people in creating Flow.

“The aim has always been that the project should offer something to everyone, whether their interests lie in music and sound, architecture, technology, sculpture, engineering, natural energy, or perhaps most importantly, the behaviour of the River Tyne itself, and we hope we have achieved that.”

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: “The Cultural Olympiad is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for everybody to be a part of London 2012, by taking part in one of the thousands of free arts and cultural events around the country.

“Flow is a landmark project for the North East as part of the national Cultural Olympiad celebration.

“The detailed craftsmanship, engineering and creative vision which has enabled Flow to come to life is spectacular.

“I hope that people in the North East take their chance to board Flow to experience this beautiful and unique work for themselves.”

A launch event and preview night will be held in the Riverside Cafe at the BALTIC on Wednesday, March 21, from 8pm.

For more information on Flow, including details of special events and opening times, visit


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