Experiment: Finalising installation location

I now need to finalise where to install and film the water wheels to achieve the most visually powerful outcome. The exciting news is that I’ve secured a licensed drone pilot who is happy to film the installation. With this in mind, the ideal location needs both practical and aesthetic qualities as below:

  • Air space around the location – both in front of and behind the installation to allow drone flying but also to avoid distraction by other features in the landscape
  • Easy access to both banks – a public bridge needs to be close by to allow the installation to be secured across the river
  • Curve in the river – this project has the curvature of the river at its core so this needs to be represented in the captured footage
  • Even and clean banks – both river banks must be a similar height for aesthetic and practical reasons and be clean enough to give focus to the installation
  • Lack of distractions – while it’s tempting to choose a scenic location with a rich landscape, the installation must take centre stage to maintain the artistic aesthetic so a plain and barren location is preferred to achieve this.

I visited 5 different locations which are summarised below and I assess their individual merits.

The River Erewash near Potters Lock was easily accessible and had a public bridge across the river. However, the banks were cluttered, the river was very shallow and there was minimal curvature so it was quickly rejected.

The river flows through Gallows Inn Fields below which I thought would have real potential as it was a scenic location but it was disappointing when I visited. There was a public foot bridge and a curve in the river but the further bank was completely inaccessible and was thickly covered with brambles and dense foliage. The other issue was that the banks were of uneven heights so aesthetically I decided that this would spoil the symmetry of the installation.

The river flows through an open pasture just north of Bennerley Viaduct and the location below has a wonderful sinuous curve and both banks are accessible. However, the problems were that the river was extremely wide, the banks were low and the flow was almost undetectable. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to suspend the paddles high enough above the water and the slow flow may prevent them from turning. I rejected this location but if the chosen location doesn’t work out I will have this as a backup.

Just south of Bennerley Viaduct the river runs through another open pasture and flows faster than further north. The location is ideal in terms of its openness and flow but it is on a wildlife rich area (hence may be disturbing) and even though the backdrop of the viaduct is visually appealing I questioned whether it was adding too much distracting context to the installation.

The location below is the chosen one. It is 2 minutes from the road, both banks are accessible, it has a straight section and a curve, both banks are an even height, it is on an open pasture with no distractions and the flow is slow but steady. In addition, just south of the location is a lovely gentle curve with overhanging bushes in blossom and suspended winter flotsam and I thought that drone footage along this section would be aesthetically rich.

Below I describe the actual location for the installation, which will be just downstream from a bend in the river. With a long and slightly curved portion of the river downstream of the proposed location, I considered that this would provide a perfect filming location to allow the drone to fly towards the installation from some distance, hover in front of it and have the curve bending away in the distance.

Footage of the Trowell post office location

Summary & next steps

I now need to construct the final set of paddles and take them to the river to carry out a final test with the full set to ensure that their weight can be adequately suspended and they turn at a good speed.

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