Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity

Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity Blog

Join our free ‘Art & Airships’ Creative Forum

Join us at our free ‘Art & Airships’ Creative Forum, on Thursday 23 September, followed by an evening drinks reception and an opportunity to view our new immersive digital artwork, Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity.

The artwork’s creative team are joined by writers, curators, historians, and academics to explore its complex themes, unpacking the creative process behind the final artwork, and considering the questions it raises about travel, environment, colonialism and our eternal human desire to escape gravity or just … to escape.

Contributors to the Forum include Skinder Hundal (British Council), Martin Mahony (University of East Anglia), Hannah Redler Hawes (Curator), Rob La Frenais (Curator/Writer/Lecturer) and the creative team of Escaping Gravity: Roland DenningDave LynchRoger IllingworthRob StrachanMike Stubbs and Sam Wiehl.

Date: Thursday 23 September 12pm-6:30pm

Location: The Swan Hotel, Bedford, MK40 1RW

Timetable of the day:

12pm- 1.30pm – Buffet Lunch & Networking
1.30pm – 5pm – Creative Forum
5pm – 6.30pm – Drinks Reception & Artwork Viewing

Context of the Forum

In making Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity a collaborative team of artists interrogate the tension that existed between the optimism of pioneering endeavour and the consequences of hubris, ambition, and folly behind the Imperial Airship Scheme of the 1920s – a scheme that would have made Bedford the centre of carbon-neutral luxury passenger travel by airship but instead ended in tragedy.

Made during the pandemic, the work reflects on our contemporary political & cultural landscape using a unique blend of gaming technology, archive film and a newly composed symphony of sound. This Forum will explore how creative works like this, pushing the boundaries of art & tech, have a role in challenging, debating and exploring the world of transport & the environment in a post-pandemic world.

Format of the Day

The day will start with lunch and networking followed by an introduction from Skinder Hundal, Director of Arts for the British Council.

It will feature a keynote speech from Martin Mahony, University of East Anglia on “Imperial Monstrosities” contextualizing the historic background.  The discussion will then be opened up to a panel to explore: “Fuel for the Flight – sharing the processing of mining airship history to inspire an artwork.”

The creative team behind the artwork will discuss the process of forming the work and the technology, artforms and processes used in the backdrop of a pandemic.

The final keynote speech of the day will be by Rob La Frenais, art curator, who will look at the future of transport and where art and science meet.

The day will include opportunities for panellists and attendees to react to, and debate, the rich themes of the work, and the historic and scientific contexts, chaired by Hannah Redler-Hawes.

The day will conclude with a drinks reception and opportunities to continue your networking.

Screenings of Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity will also be available to view at The Higgins throughout the day at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm and 5:30pm.  (An escort from The Swan Hotel will be provided for each viewing).

Delve deeper into Bedford’s airship heritage – view the Virtual Exhibition here.

There is a comprehensive written publication that can be viewed online or hard copies can be purchased from The Higgins’ Bedford for £5 per copy.

The full exhibition trailer can be viewed here and a selection of short artwork extracts can be viewed here.

If you would like to attend, please register via the Eventbrite link here:

Notes on access

Free parking is available at The Swan.  Please register your vehicle with reception on arrival.

Bedford Train Station is 17 minutes walk and a Park & Ride service operates from Elstow.

The Swan Hotel is fully wheelchair accessible. Talks will be amplified with a PA system.

The talks from the day will be released virtually following the event and subtitles will be provided.

If you have any other accessibility requirements to help you to attend, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll endeavour to accommodate them ( or 01234 818670).

We look forward to seeing you there!