Pop-up robotic woodpeckers, a 'breathing' tunnel and 3D moon model coming to Milton Keynes

Six leading art installations have been announced by organisers of the IF Festival

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 1:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:07 pm

Milton Keynes International Festival, scheduled to take place over 21 days this summer, has today revealed six of its leading art installations.

The first will be a display of pop-up robotic woodpeckers in different locations at the city centre. The birds will be , attached by magnets to street signs, lamps, and other metal structures.

"The robotic birds transform the invisible signals from mobile and wireless technology into a constantly changing composition of rhythmic beats tapped out on the city’s architecture," said a spokesman for the festival.

A robotic woodpecker
A robotic woodpecker

Next is an kinetic installation called 'Breathing Room', which will be in Queen's Court. Created by UK artist Anna Berry, it is an illuminated tunnel lined with thousands of delicate paper-like cones that move and breathe.

"Audiences walk through its pulsing interior in a multi-sensory and immersive experience. Its mesmeric movement is generated by the ingenious mechanics of a sculptural exterior created from found objects, cogs, chains and bicycle parts," said a festival spokesman.

The third exhibit is called 'Arrivals + Departures' and is an interactive artwork rooted in the direct life and death experiences of local people.

British social practice artists Davina Drummond and Yara El-Sherbini use the iconic format of an old-fashioned arrivals and departures board as a poetic context to reflect on birth, death and memories of lives lived. Throughout the festival,names and other data will be gathered from the public and continually added to the artwork, which will be located in City Square.

The banner installation

Next, international creative company Kinetika is working with two Milton Keynes artists and ten community groups to design and create 30 batik silk flags to be displayed at MK Rose in Campbell Park.

"Inspired by the visual forms and mandala symbols that were used in designs for The Milton Keynes Rose - a spectacular public space in Campbell Park used for celebration, commemoration and contemplation - the flags incorporate resonant themes including coming together, appreciating nature and looking forward," said the festival spokesman.

Meanwhile in the Tree Cathedral artist Luke Jerram will be placing his massive seven metre diameter model of the moon, complete with surround sound and detailed NASA imagery on its surfaces. In Middleton Hall will be the sixth installation - Luke's other sculpture called Gaia, which represents an astronaut’s experience of seeing Earth from space for the first time.

"The Moon has always inspired humanity, acting as a ‘cultural mirror’ to society, reflecting the ideas and beliefs of all people around the world. Museum of the Moon lets us observe and contemplate our cultural similarities and differences, and learn about the latest Moon science," said the spokesman.

Arrivals and departures

The IF Festival takes place between July 10 and July 30. It will fill the city centre’s parks and green spaces, public squares and large-scale retail spaces with new commissions, family events, site-specific installations, pop-up performances and a digital programme.

Established in 2010, the festival is produced by The Stables, developed with the support of Arts Council England, and Milton Keynes Council and presented in association with centre:mk. It is staged with the help of volunteers, together with support and grants of hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Arts Council England, Milton Keynes Council, trusts, foundations and partnerships with individuals and businesses.

For more details see www.ifmiltonkeynes.org.