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The Watertower

The Watertower

Sporton, Gregory (2010) The Watertower. [Show/Exhibition]

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The Water Tower is an installation and interactive 3D Game/Animation exploring the history of Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital in vision, sound and spoken word.

It was devised in collaboration with the Visual Research Unit and Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, led by the Director of the VRU, Gregory Sporton and created by MA Visual Research students; Lee Scott, Iona Makiola, Jovi Zhao and Selma Wang.

Selly Oak Hospital was built in 1890 and in 2010 all its services were moved over to the newly built Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The Hospital Trust was keen to mark the occasion with a meaningful event to enable the hospital's 7,000 staff, as well as former patients, visitors and local residents, to celebrate the history of Selly Oak, and to say goodbye to a building that held special memories for them.

The Water Tower animation was created as part of this event. The heart of the project is expressed through current day interviews between the VRU students with patients from the older adults ward and with staff members, many of whom have worked at Selly Oak for decades.

Selly Oak Hospital was renowned for critical care of wounded soldiers from the Second World War to the present day, so representing this in a way that was sensitive and respectful to past memories, and to the experiences currently being faced by wounded soldiers from the war in Afghanistan, was one of the challenges in terms of content.

The VRU students filmed the interior and exterior of one of Selly Oak Hospital's most distinctive landmarks; the Water Tower, and the realistic capture of distinctive Midlands Victorian brick lends texture and authenticity to the animation. The viewer/player (wearing a headpiece to allow 'virtual' experience) navigates through three floors of the tower, with each representing an aspect of the hospital's history; workhouse days, the Second World War, important medical discoveries and new beginnings.

On each level, the viewer/player can choose to interact with objects and pictures which trigger oral histories and interviews with hospital staff and patients. In one room, a red poppy motif forms part of the background, and love letters from the Second World War are heard. The top floor of the tower leads to the exit and features images from the past, as well as images of the newly built Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which when triggered, express feelings about change, the legacy of Selly Oak and what the new hospital will mean for staff and patients.

This animation may be installed as part of the new hospital, not just to reflect the experience of transition which is important to the morale of staff, but also to honour the history of a hospital that has given and achieved so much since 1890.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition
Uncontrolled Keywords: animation
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:24

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