Make a date to walk on water with AURORA

From September 21 to October 7 a Victorian reservoir in Liverpool will become home to an exciting, high technology experience asking us to think about our increasingly uncertain relationship with water.

It’s called AURORA and its appearance could not be more timely. A wet winter has been undone by one of the driest summers on record, farmers fear for their crops, and scientists have warned we could be entering a ‘hothouse’ period that could make parts of the earth uninhabitable.

The setting for AURORA is Toxteth Reservoir, a remarkable and deserted building half the size of a football pitch, and perched on top of Liverpool’s High Park Street.

Built in the mid-19th century, the reservoir is a testament to the brilliance of the engineers who made the Industrial Revolution happen. It was a solution to a pressing problem – how to maintain a constant supply of fresh water to the inhabitants of a rapidly expanding city.

For more than a century this massive structure of brick, sandstone and cast iron held two million gallons of the stuff. In 1997 it was deemed redundant.

Aurora Trailer from FACT

Soon Toxteth Reservoir will be home once again to water, but as you’ve never seen it before, the jaw-dropping work of cutting edge artists.

Commissioned by FACT Liverpool, interactive art studio Invisible Flock and Liverpool City Council, AURORA will offer guests the chance to take a 40 minute journey through a fantastical and thought provoking environment.

Invisible Flock’s Technical Director, Ben Eaton, says: “AURORA will make people feel as if they are walking through a waking dream about water. Water is incredibly precious; we have the luxury of never having to think about it too much but as a resource it is a terribly fragile thing.

“All life flows from water, we are literally made up of it. It is more important and precious than oil or gold, but we never think of it that way.”

Local children have played an important role in the creation of AURORA, producing part of the atmospheric soundscape that will envelop visitors during their time in the reimagined reservoir.

Pupils from King’s Leadership Academy and St Silas, Holy Family and Matthew Arnold primary schools collaborated with Invisible Flock, the FACT Learning Team, and musicians Simon Fletcher and James Hamilton to compose and play music inspired by, and using, water.

James says: “Simon is a great engineer as well as a musician. He built eight water based synthesisers, some of which allowed the children to pass their hands through water to generate different tones and tunes. We froze a microphone inside a block of ice so they could scrape the surface and create unusual effects, and they sang my AURORA theme. Now their great work is being woven into the sound design visitors will experience in September.”

FACT’s Director, Mike Stubbs, says: “The scale of AURORA is pretty staggering, as is the technology and artistry that underpin it. You’ll walk on water, through water, see it flow by and around you, enter an ice cave, a tropical rainforest, and witness monsoons unfolding right in front of you.”

Interactive artists Invisible Flock are internationally renowned and AURORA promises to be a must-see phenomenon. State of the art interactive technologies, soundscapes, lasers and ice sculptures in a huge and extraordinary hidden gem of a building add up to something very special.

Deputy Mayor of Liverpool Culture, Tourism and Events, Wendy Simon, says: “AURORA  is an extraordinary project. Innovative, ambitious, rooted in place and focused on an important subject. As a city, Liverpool often uses culture and creativity to explore big and challenging ideas in an engaging way and this project is a perfect example. I have been lucky enough to see some of the test installations and they were breathtaking!”

Liverpool Waterfront