Floating hydro-powered art project open in Newcastle

A floating musical tide mill which is powered by a giant waterwheel and built using recycled pontoons, is open for the summer at Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside

The £500,000 artwork, named Flow, collects details on the chemical make-up of the River Tyne and was created by the Amble Boat Company as part of the Arts Council’s Artists Taking the Lead Olympics’ project.

The mill on the north bank of the River Tyne can be boarded by visitors for free. It will host various cultural events this summer in partnership with the Tyneside Cinema, the Sage Music Centre, the EAT! food festival and Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books.

Inside the structure, electro-acoustic instruments respond to the constantly changing environment of the river to generate a diverse range of sounds.

Water is drawn from the Tyne and passed through a series of filters, lasers and sensors to create unique sounds which can also be manipulated from on-board the tide-mill. There are a set of nine wooden speaker horns tailored to the frequency responses of the different instruments.

Interior of the Flow Tidemill

The project is a collaboration between Ed Carter, a music and arts producer and the Owl Project, an artist collective consisting of Simon Blackmore, Antony Hall and Steve Symons,

It will stay on the Newcastle Quayside throughout the summer as one of twelve public arts commissions funded by the UK Arts Councils to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Carter said: “Everyone’s experience of Flow will be unique to them, as the instruments respond directly to the changing state of the river. Flow spans art forms, blending contemporary and traditional methods, combining sculpture, cutting edge technology hand crafted wooden instruments, architecture, precision engineering and electronic music.”

The project is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm, until the end of September.