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Museo Aero Solar - 2011

Museo Aero Solar was an ambitious public art project, curated as an integral part of Museum Show – a major two chapter international exhibition, marking the 50th anniversary of Arnolfini

Museo Aero Solar is an international collective of artists, designers and engineers who were invited to come to Bristol to work with local people to create the project – resulting in a gigantic solar ‘balloon’ for Hengrove Park, making links with the site’s historic function as Bristol’s first airfield/airport. The balloon is made from hundreds of reused plastic bags, with new sections being added each time it is reassembled in different cities, thus changing techniques, drawings and shapes, and growing in size every time it sets sail in the air.

This “do-it-yourself” project originated from a series of conversations between artist Tomás Saraceno and writer Alberto Pesavento along with artists at Isola Art Centre in Milan, Italy, in 2007. The initial proposition to build “the first flying museum” emerged from a series of conversations about sustainable technologies and architecture, solar energy, and air control regulations. The collective have previously created the work in a range of situations internationally including Sharjah (United Arabs Emirates), Isola neighborhood in Milano (Italy), Medellin (Colombia), Lyon (France), Rapperswil (Switzerland), Tirana (Albania), and Ein Hawd (first recognized Arab village in Israel).The work has been produced both in the context of institutions with a relationship to an arts or cultural organisation, and also in a more informal or grass roots situation.

For Arnolfini this was the first opportunity to work in the Hengrove area, South Bristol on a collaborative public arts project. We worked with local communities, schools and colleges in the South Bristol area to assemble the balloon over a week of design workshops, practical making activities, film screenings and organic food, hosted by the South Bristol Skills Academy.

Participating groups included: University of the West of England: D3 Students; Perry Junior School (Hengrove); New Oak Primary School (Hengrove); Kingswood Foundation/Creative Youth Network; Horizons students, South Bristol Skills Academy.

The inflation/launch event was planned for the site of Hengrove Park, however this was always highly dependent upon the right weather conditions to ensure health and safety, and therefore we established a detailed contingency plan for a semi-inflation event at an indoor site In the final event the weather was not suitable for an outdoor inflation – however as the documentary film narrates we did process with the balloon to the site of Hengrove Park in the early hours of Sunday 9th October.

Participants’ comments:

“Having limited materials you have to be more creative with them, which sometimes can be a challenge but it is rewarding at the end of the day.” UWE D3 student

“It’s bringing people together you wouldn’t have had a chance to work with before and learning from each other” UWE D3 student

“This is fun making a hot air balloon. I’ve never, ever made one before, just seen one” Primary School pupil.

“It’s massive. I just want to hug it. It’s like my Mum.” South Bristol Skills Academy student (Horizons)

“It was great of you organizing the competition because it gave my art and design students a tremendous opportunity. People outside the arts often undervalue these courses and don't realize the many embedded and transferable skills that are learned on these programs.” Trish Lock, Horizons course, South Bristol Skills Academy

Do-it-yourself Museo Aero Solar.

4-9th October 2011

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