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Science Meets Art meets Commuters at Crewe Station

Science Meets Art meets Commuters at Crewe Station

Cheshire East’s inspiring and creative SHIFT programme – full of hands-on and innovative activities to do, see, create and learn around all things digital – continues its aim of bringing digital experiences to unusual and surprising spaces with the launch of Living Sculpture (Virtual), on Platform 6 at Crewe Station from Friday 10th March.

This brand new and interactive art work offers the perfect antidote and respite to harassed and busy travellers as they pass through the station. Created by award-winning, Liverpool based artist Laurence Payot in collaboration with a team of researchers and practitioners at the University of York – its aim is to encourage visitors to make intangible and emotional exchanges between themselves and the digital world. In this context, the station platform becomes a stage on which the passengers become both the audience and the participants who can then interact with the artwork, to make out-of-the-ordinary things happen in such an ordinary and everyday location.

This new interactive sculpture invites the busy traveller to stop what they are doing for a moment, to escape the hustle and bustle of their journey and to engage with something surprising and creative. The installation invites the participant to place their hands within and bring a piece of drapery to life. It uses an old illusion technique (peppers’ ghost effect) to create a hologram and LEAP motion tracking to track the viewer’s hand movement. Dots, floating around like particles in space, are attracted by the viewer’s hands, dancing around the skin like magnetic organisms. When a second viewer joins in, they start to form a moving piece of drapery, breathing with the participants movements, in an ever-changing shape. Interactive coded sound is also manipulated in the process.

Living Sculpture (Virtual) is the result of a two-year collaboration with evolutionary scientists Ewan Minter and Pr. Michael Brockhurst at the University of York as well as academics and digital artists Dr Sandra Pauletto, Fiona Keenan and Prof. Ambrose Field, exploring the symbiotic relationship between Laurence’s artworks and people. Together they explored how art can inspire science in its investigation around symbiosis – the notion of “living together”.

As the Artist explains: “Since I started to working in York together with the Ewan Minter and Pr. Michael Brockhurst, I have been thinking about how to create sculptures that can be a sort of host, and how people could become symbionts – who come to inhabit the sculptures. With this comes the idea that the sculptures wouldn’t just be still, they would start living and breathing with the people within them. I put the sculptures and people in a space and see what happens. What excited me most about showing the work in Crewe Station is the fact that strangers might come together for a moment to experience the work. I love places of transition, when you’re shifting from one place to another. This is also what the work is about: communication, connections, encounters.”

SHIFT Creative Director Louise Shannon comments:  “We are delighted to be showing Laurence’s work as part of SHIFT.  From its interactive nature to its unexpected location at Crewe Station, it fits perfectly with our overarching ambition and aim – to celebrate and create digital discoveries for all in unusual places, making digital work more accessible and putting it at the heart of all innovation in Cheshire East.”

Mark Taylor, Virgin Trains Station Manager for Crewe Station comments: “ We are always looking to challenge traditional thinking and look at innovative ways to enhance our customers’ experience. Tens of thousands of commuters will pass through the station in the next month, and I’m sure Laurence’s engaging work will inspire a lot of comment, interaction with fellow passengers and generate a few smiles too.”

Living Sculpture (Virtual), opens on Platform 6 at Crewe Station from Friday 10th March, and can be viewed daily by commuters until April 7th from 9-6pm.

An “In Conversation Event” takes place on Friday 17th March at 4pm on Platform 6 – between the artist Laurence Payot and SHIFT  Creative Director Louise Shannon. 

This will be an informal discussion for all, and a chance for the artist to talk about her new artwork and the wider context of her career. Members of the public who are not commuting but who wish to attend and view the work, can do so by arranging access in advance via: or telephoning 07966 448029.

The full SHIFT programme – including talks, workshops, professional training, tech meet ups, art installations, family events and drop-in coding sessions – will be updated throughout the year via the website: