Click here to return home 



"Escaping Gravity"

Immersive Artwork and Community - Curated Exhibition

10th July 2021 until 20th March 2022


Airship Dreams

Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity is a commission by Bedford Creative Arts in partnership with The Higgins Bedford and the Airship Heritage Trust exploring Bedford’s identity as the historical centre of the UK’s airship industry, past and present. Lead artist, Mike Stubbs, has worked over a three-year period getting to know the community and the history that has inspired the project.

The outcome is a new immersive artwork created collaboratively with a team of artists in a computer games engine, Unreal, that invites the viewer on a spectacular journey like floating through space. The artwork will be shown in The Higgins’ William Harpur Gallery from 10th July – 28th November 2021 and will be exhibited alongside an exciting new community-sourced display of airship artefacts, stories, inspiration and memorabilia donated by airship enthusiasts from the local community and around the world.

Escapting Gravity: About the artwork

10 July 2021 – 28 November 2021, Sir William Harpur Gallery – Free Entry

Lead Artist Mike Stubbs was brought up in Bedford and leads in a collaboration with artists Roger Illingworth, Roland Denning, Dave Lynch, Rob Strachan and Sam Weihl. The work presents as an audio-visual immersive artwork and newly composed symphony that rises and falls as a metaphor for the life of the R101 airship. The images within the work are suggestive of the R101 and Cardington sheds with the themes birth, death and rebirth echoing the lifecycle of the airship.

The artwork is created in Unreal Engine, the gaming software that Fortnite is built in. Audiences enter a sculptural space, with the video projection filling one wall of the gallery. Choral voices combine with audio reminiscent of airship engines and wind, creating a mythical and meditative journey, as though sailing through an imaginary space on an airship.

In making this work, Mike Stubbs interrogates the tension that existed between the optimism of pioneering endeavour and the consequences of hubris, ambition and folly behind the Imperial Airship Scheme of the 1920s, as a reflection on our contemporary political and cultural landscape.

Community Curated Exhibition: About the community’s involvement

10 July 2021 – 20 March 2022, Connections Gallery – Free Entry

Mike Stubbs, the Airship Heritage Trust, The Higgins Bedford, Bedford College and Shortstown Primary School with an extended team of artists, scientists and historians including Dr Sita Thomas have involved local people of all ages in Bedford to make new artwork, explore, collect and curate archive and newly sourced airship heritage material & memories.

Videos of people sharing their stories and “unboxing” their artefacts are available on our blog page.

Their inspiration is showcased in the Connections Gallery of The Higgins, Bedford from 10th July 2021 until 20th March 2022 and has led to the creation of the Airship Dreamers Club, a set of creative films that inspire young people to explore the heritage. A set of school resources are available alongside.

BCA would like to thank the public for sharing their own experiences of Bedford’s airship heritage and showing us the depths of their imagination.

GO SEE!... when is it on and where?

10th July 2021 until 20th March 2022

The Higgins Bedford
Castle Lane,
MK40 3XD

t: 01234 718618

Tuesday - Saturday: 11am - 5pm
Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday: 2pm - 5pm
Closed on Mondays

Get involved and start unboxing, let's hear from you!

For more information about how to submit your airship memories contact Alastair Lawson and we'll add your oral video history to the Bedford Creative Arts and Airship Heritage Trust recording library!




Copyright © 2021 Airship Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved. Copying and/or redistributing of any files is illegal under international copyright law. AHT is not responsible for the content of external sites.