University of Nottingham: National Gallery artwork and innovative technology inspiring a more sustainable future

Families in Nottingham have helped to create an innovative installation that uses digital technology to upcycle elements selected from the National Gallery’s historic Collection to re-imagine a more sustainable future.

Ten local families volunteered to become co-designers in a series of 6 workshops led by Roma Patel, Creative Director of Makers of Imaginary Worlds and writer Sam Redway at Lakeside Arts. The results were shared with partners at the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab and digital artist Barret Hodgson, who together with Roma and Sam have been able to incorporate the co-designers great ideas and bring the HOME-Zero project to life. Funded by Nesta, this creative research and development project aims to help ignite a public conversation about the relationship between household emissions and climate change.

The installation has been user-tested in London at the National Gallery’s experimental space NGX and is at Lakeside from the 26 – 30 May where it is free to attend, but individual timeslots for each family (maximum of 6 persons) need to be booked in advance.

Each family will be met by an actor and checked for imagination levels as they arrive outside the Hexagonal installation. They’ll be invited to enter through a fridge door into a magical space where 3 ‘walls’ are large digital screens featuring wallpaper, pictures, shopping and to-do lists making it feel like the inside of a busy household. Gradually a door will open showing an industrial scene beyond and the voice of the house will ask if the family can help to come up with new ideas to deal with the problem, and the children are invited to physically crank up the power and help create a bit of thinking space.

The walls transform to display the National Gallery artworks on one screen, a blank canvas in the middle and a sketch pad of ideas on the third. The family can scroll through the images with a salad spinner, and use old-fashioned bellows to select objects from the pictures which will appear as a hologram in the ‘ideas upcycler’ platform. At this point they’ll have a choice to keep it, upcycle it, or cancel it before it magically appears on the blank canvas and transforms into a modern more sustainable version of the object.

One of the family members involved in creating the installation said: “My son and I really enjoyed participating in the HOME:Zero project. We didn’t know quite what to expect, but it was extremely enjoyable, fun and informative, and run by a fantastic team. It was amazing to see and hear the ideas of all those involved and how these were brought together to create the final installation which is amazing. We looked forward to coming back to each workshop and felt a real connection with the team and the project. We are so proud of the final installation and I’d really encourage people to come to see HOME:Zero, you won’t be disappointed.”

“It’s been a fantastic experience. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the creative process and playing our part in helping shape the project. We’ve spent time with some lovely families and all the kids should feel so proud of their achievements.
Family participant
The project is part of a new innovation programme, National Gallery X (NGX) – a partnership between the National Gallery and King’s College London, drawing on the artistic, curatorial and educational expertise in the National Gallery. An ambitious project at the forefront of digital innovation, NGX provides a space to explore new kinds of cultural experiences. Makers of Imaginary Worlds create immersive, mixed reality installations. Their work merges emerging sensing technologies with traditional crafts with an aim to create a sense of curiosity and imaginative play in young audiences.

Director of Makers of Imaginary World Dr Roma Patel said: ‘The process of creating this installation has been truly collaborative and having children involved in the process has really opened up new ideas and possibilities. We’re really delighted with the final piece that is a feast for the eyes, ears and imagination and we hope will spark some ideas in how people can be bring sustainability into their homes and lives.”

Lakeside is committed to providing inspirational creative experiences for children and families, and in HOME:Zero we’ve had the most amazing opportunity to work collaboratively with families to genuinely co-design the experience that visitors will have. The results are quirkily fantastical and a whole lot of fun, but we also hope they’ll encourage everyone to consider what they can do as a family to help make everyone’s future a more sustainable one.
Director of Lakeside Arts, Shona Powell OBE
Nesta’s Sustainable Future Mission aims to significantly reduce household carbon emissions by 2030. To help make this happen, we need art and creativity to inspire new behaviours and help catalyse change. Nesta’s own research shows that, although 85% agree climate change is one of the most important issues to address, just 35% have adopted or are planning to adopt energy efficiency measures in their own homes.