ACTIVE ENERGY: COMMUNITIES COUNTERING CLIMATE CHANGE by Loraine Leeson.
The article outlines the development of the Active Energy project and the organic way in which such projects can gain longevity if they are rooted in community and not subject to the overarching constraints of commissions or funding bodies. Through supporting concerns identified by senior citizens in East London, Active Energy has been able to address urgent ecological issues and discover new ways that crucial local knowledge can have an effect both locally and with a constituency far beyond its own borders.
On 20th September 2019, as millions of school children, workers and trades unionists across the globe commenced a week of action for climate justice, the Active Energy project celebrated how older and younger people have come together to work for environmental change in their community.
The event was held in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, close to where the water wheel is located. It was opened by Paul Brickell, Executive Director for Regeneration and Community Partnerships at the London Legacy Development Corporation.
2-4pm Friday 20th September 2019
Loraine Leeson and The Geezers invite you to celebrate their latest venture in the Active Energy arts project. A floating water wheel has been installed close to the London Aquatics Centre in the Waterworks River to drive an aerator that will help counteract the effects of pollution on the river’s fish and wildlife. Meanwhile pupils from Bow School have constructed their own working models of turbines using designs suitable for the generation of renewable energy.
The Last Drop
5 Thornton Street, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 2AD
Close to the ArcelorMittal Orbit
Nearest tube: Stratford
Pupils at Bow School, East London have been taking part in workshops led by engineer Toby Borland as part of Loraine Leeson’s Active Energy project.
They were supported by members of The Geezers Club from AgeUK Bow, who have been a central part of this project for the last twelve years – it was their idea to find out how the River Thames and its tributaries could be used to power their community. Students from the MA Art and Social Practice at Middlesex University also assisted.
The young people’s working models will be on display at a public event to be held in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on the afternoon of Friday 20th September. Watch this space for details.
On 4th July 2019 an Active Energy floating water wheel was installed in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London.
This is the latest initiative of the Active Energy project led by artist Loraine Leeson with members of the Geezers Club from AgeUK Bow. With the help of engineer Toby Borland they have developed different schemes over a period of twelve years, which demonstrate how sustainable energy can be used to support their community.
The floating water wheel can be seen in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park between Thornton and Iron Bridge, where it has been installed to help the survival of fish and wildlife. In certain weather conditions sewage finds its way into the river, where it uses up oxygen and can cause fish to die. Lock gates along the river are raised intermittently to allow water to flow, and at these times the wheel turns, driving air into the river.
This art/science collaboration between artist Loraine Leeson and biophysical chemist Nithin Rai aimed to support biodiversity on the River Thames. Reed beds were constructed along the hull of the Tamesis Dock barge, situated opposite Tate Britain between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, the site of the original Lambeth Marshes. The initiative promoted the ‘greening’ of the shored up banks of the river, while providing a sheltered habitat and monitoring station for river organisms. It will also served as a pilot for how biodiversity conservation may be expanded along the inner city reaches of urban rivers. Visitors were able to connect to the project web site via their phones to observe recent activity and learn about the issues affecting biodiversity conservation in the Thames. In September 2015 images of these organisms were projected along the embankment. The work was funded by the Western Riverside Environmental Fund, which re-directs revenue from landfill tax for environmental purposes.
Projections of the kinds of microorganisms we discovered in this inner city reach of the River Thames were projected along its southerly embankment, the site of the historic Lambeth Marshes..
Lambeth Floating Marsh Animation Loop from Loraine Leeson on Vimeo with Visual effects by Sean Lewis.
The Tidal Thames is a recovering ecosystem of great ecological importance and the Estuary supports a diverse flora; rich populations of invertebrates; 121 species of fish and many internationally important aquatic birds.
In 1957 however the River Thames was declared biologically dead with water quality so poor that it could not sustain life. Since then the river has undergone a massive transformation, water quality has improved, and wildlife has returned. Nevertheless long stretches of concrete flood defense walls on the Thames are still preventing plant growth and the invertebrates that thrive in healthy riverbank habitats.
Below are images collected from the project.
Lambeth Floating Marsh is an art/science collaboration between artist Loraine Leeson and biophysical chemist Nithin Rai, with support from University of Westminster’s Faculty of Science and Technology.
Looking down the river towards Westminster.
On this page are short introductions to the Lambeth Floating Marsh project team.
Lambeth Floating Marsh projections from Loraine Leeson on Vimeo.
On the evening of 15th September 2015, Lambeth Floating Marsh was opened by Professor Geoff Petts, Vice Chancellor of University of Westminster. Loraine Leeson and Nithin Rai described the project, while Chris Coode, Deputy Chief Executive of the environmental organization Thames2, provided an overview of the challenges and opportunities for wildlife along the urban reaches of the Thames.
Science and Technology dean Professor Jane Lewis drew on her specialist knowledge of micro organism behavior to consider the benefits of new habitat, and concluded the event by reflecting on the value of the arts and sciences working together to bring these issues to public attention.
Professor Geoff Petts, Vice Chancellor of University of Westminster opened the event and spoke of his specialist interest in river ecology.
3.30 – 5pm Saturday 13th May 2017
at National Mills Weekend
For this new phase of the Active Energy project a floating water wheel is being placed in the River Lee close to an historic tidal mill. The outflow from the mill pool will turn the wheel, which will then drive an aerator to oxygenate the water and counteract the effects of pollution on the river’s fish and wildlife.
The process has been led by artist Loraine Leeson working with the Geezers, a seniors’ group based at AgeUK, and supported by the Lea Valley team of the Hydrocitizenship research initiative. Engineer Toby Borland designed and implemented the new wheel, while Thames 21’s Love the Lea has provided facilities, advice and further support. The wheel’s low-cost open source design will soon be viewable on the Active Energy web site so that others can take up the idea.
House Mill, Three Mill Lane, Bromley-by-Bow, London E3 3DU
firstname.lastname@example.org 020 8980 4626
Nearest tube: Bromley by Bow
Active Energy has received the Best Arts and Green Energy award from Regen SW. The awards were announced at an event at the Bath Assembly Rooms on 29th November 2016. This is the 13th annual awards ceremony to honour innovation in the development of green energy and the first to recognise the arts as a key player in this process.
11am-4pm Saturday 14th May 2016
To celebrate National Mills Weekend
The Geezers will be working with artist Loraine Leeson and engineer Toby Borland in front of House Mill
at the Three Mills
heritage site to construct a stream wheel for later installation in the Lower Lea. The wheel will be activated by the outflow of water from the mill and will power an aerator to help oxygenate the water and counteract the effects of pollution on the river’s fish and wildlife.
This current phase of the project is taking place as part of the Hydrocitizenship initiative.
On the evening of 15th September 2015 projections of river organisms were projected along the Thames embankment in Lambeth to draw attention to the importance of supporting biodiversity along urban rivers.
This arts/science collaboration between artist Loraine Leeson and scientist Nithin Rai includes new reed bed habitat for micro organisms and invertebrates in long basket structures attached to the hull of the Dutch barge Tamesis Dock. Find out more at www.lambethfloatingmarsh.org.uk.
Join us for drinks and projections at the Tamesis Dock to hear how a miniature reed bed can make a difference to biodiversity in the tidal Thames.
7.30pm Tuesday 15th September 2015
London SE1 7TP