Water Table

Site specific installation, The Red Tower, York
Commissioned and shown as part of York Curiouser 2014

Water Table was commissioned and shown as part of York Curiouser – a programme of art interventions which explore the city through colour, texture and word.

Water Table is an installation that has been created specifically for the Red Tower in York. We were intrigued by the history of this building, in particular its early origins as a watch tower for the Kings Fish Pond. The floor level of the Red Tower that is evident today originally would have been several feet lower and its walls surrounded by water and marshland. This lake was formed in the 11th century, by diverting the River Foss to complete the defences of the walled city.

The original wooden door of the Red Tower has been opened and in its place a red painted alcove suggestive of an open doorway has been constructed. Within this archway is a window which offers a controlled view into the main part of the installation comprising of an illuminated mirrored space, water and an architectural model of the tower and wall.

The mirrored walls are formed to create a perimeter that mirrors the configuration of the medieval city walls and within this space is an expanse of water which is slowly fed by the continuous drip of water falling from above. The droplets are timed to be released every few seconds, creating ripples through the water and distorting the reflections.

Standing within this watery expanse is an architectural model of the tower and a section of the city walls. These are infinitely reflected around the space forming an illusory walled city that stretches out indefinitely. However the viewer is only able to see the reflections of this model rather than the real object. The model is coated with iron oxide which over time and with the presence of water slowly turns red.

The impetus for this idea to create a mirrored walled city grew out of our research and visits to York. The more we learnt about the place, the more we were struck by the many layers of history and interconnecting stories which have become built into the city’s fabric. The layers seem to be porous, full of holes, creating a network of alleyways and story lines from different times in history that exist in the present as a mass of intertwining threads. This creates a curious quality of there being more buildings, courtyards, alleyways and interconnecting spaces than there is the physical area to contain them.

Click York Curiouser for further information on the project