The Rising Sun

Shearing, David (2022) The Rising Sun. [Performance]


Created by Variable Matter, ‘The Rising Sun’ (2022) was a snapshot of everyday people, shining a light on hidden stories of the local community, not the stereotypes that were often portrayed in this unique and changing outer East London town. Pubs were at the heart of our communities and could serve as a place of conversation. This project encouraged debate about what was possible in our town centres by building a sense of destination and pride. ‘The Rising Sun’ was an immersive multimedia installation that enveloped spectators in haze, light, and sound which evolves as time passes. Built in partnership with local people and communities, the project celebrates the voices of 100 people in Havering, mapping their histories and futures.

The installation has been designed to resemble a public house on the outside, whilst the inside offered an environment filled with a hue that follows the movements of the sun. A space of contemplation and hope.

It was built in partnership with a range of community partners, including; Ahava Community, The Bull Pub, Di’s Diamonds, Diamond Geezers (The Harrow Pub), Dicing with Life, The Golden Lion, Havering Asian Social & Welfare Association (HASWA), Havering Council, Hope Café, The Mercury Shopping Centre, Romford Markets, Romford Shopping Hall and YMCA Thames Gateway.

The aim was to use an inspiring and unusual art that could animate public space and help to bring us together. Like so many town centres, Romford was a different place following Covid, with the loss of many major retailers, and a different night-time economy landscape. The project sought to create an accessible art that would inspire a sense of placemaking.

The installation had also been designed to explore and celebrate the complexities and changing identities of East London and Essex. The borough of Havering had the 4th lowest level of public arts engagement in London, placing it firmly in the bottom third of places nationally. The Rising Sun installation, which was commissioned in partnership with Romford Business Improvement District (BID), Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, and supported by Havering Changing, a consortium of local organizations, was part of a wider progressive strategy being undertaken in the borough to trial radical new ideas to engage local people in arts and culture in different ways. The research impact of the project was supported by Royal Central of Speech and Drama.

The installation was available to a wider audience online via an interactive digital website in which viewers were able to click on and ‘eavesdrop’ into the many captured voices. The online binaural soundscape had been built in partnership with artist/composer James Bulley and Rabbit Hole, a creative agency known for their leading digital work for Coldplay.


Other - Video (MP4) (The Rising Sun)
  • Available under License CC-BY-NC

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