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Historic wind tunnels reopen at art exhibition after 50 years

The Wind Tunnel Project, created by art company Artliner, is a six-week artistic and educational programme that will coincide with the Farnborough Airshow

Wind Tunnel Art Project, Farnborough

Farnborough's historic wind tunnel buildings have opened to the public for the first time.

Once a unique testing facility for aircraft, the wind tunnels within Farnborough Business Park were closed in the 1960s but have now been given a new lease of life as they host a unique art exhibition.

The Wind Tunnel Project, created by art company Artliner, is a six-week artistic and educational programme that will coincide with the Farnborough Airshow.

The art project took more than 18 months to develop following a visit from Tatiana Ojjeh, founder of Artliner, to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) museum in September 2012.

She said: “I first came across the wind tunnels when I visited the dedicated team at FAST at a time that coincided with a small exhibition I was curator for at TAG Farnborough Airport.

“The history of the land, and its significance in British aviation, is a major aspect of the airport’s character and something I was eager to learn more about.

“It is thanks to FAST’s deep respect for the buildings, and the longstanding connection with their story and the community that once thrived around them, that the wind tunnels still exist at all.

“As I travelled that autumn through Dubai and Hong Kong to the respective art fairs, the FAST trustee’s passion for the wind tunnels and stories stayed with me.”

 

Miss Ojjeh met with Andrew Lloyd, chief executive of Rushmoor Borough Council, on her return to England and the project was ignited.

She said: “Over a number of weeks I arranged visits with numerous contacts in the art world, showed them the space and we discussed and shared ideas.”

Within the exhibition, artist Thor McIntyre-Burnie has used the 24-foot wind tunnels as a platform for a sound installation project.

His work pays homage to a performance of Singing with the Nightingales, by cellist Beatrice Harrison, and is layered with live recordings of the Rushmoor Male Voice Choir.

The project also features a piece from artist James Bridle, whose grandfather used to be employed in the wind tunnels, entitled Rainbow Plane.

The full-scale ground installation is an outline of the Miles M.52 aircraft, which was developed at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough but was never flown.

The Wind Tunnel Project was launched on Monday and runs until Sunday July 20, from 10am to 8pm.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for concessions and are available from thewind tunnelproject.com/tickets.

A number of additional events and workshops will be held at the wind tunnel buildings during the exhibition, including a performance from Jonny Greenwood, lead guitarist of Radiohead, with The London Contemporary Orchestra. The performance will take place on Saturday June 14, from 8pm, and tickets cost £28.

 
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