Waterpowered Sculpture Automata
Focusing on the reasons for the mills being built within the Derwent Valley – the power of the River Derwent and its tributaries – this project brough in artist Johnny White to work with a wide range of communities and age groups to produce moving water-powered sculptures. These were on public display within the Site in 2005.
Made mainly of metal, all the moving parts of the sculptures were powered by water. Other materials such as terracotta ceramics were included. These imaginative clay figures, made by both children and adults, were formed over card-board thread cones, making a further link to the textile industry.
This project brought together design, the arts and technology, much as the mills have done, to create an interesting, dynamic and educational art-work.
Fleet Arts as project managers, assisted by a community team from Rolls Royce, supported Johnny in setting up and running around 50 workshops with people aged from 3 to nearly 90. Local groups played a key role in this by putting ideas forward for the final pieces as well as bending the metal and making terracotta creatures for use within the final sculptures.
The project left as a legacy not only the art-works themselves but also memories of the workshops and a greater understanding and appreciation of the history of the Derwent Valley mills and the contribution they made to the development of British, and world-wide, textile industries.