Talking Lakes Ignite with Di Mainstone the creator of Time Mirror

Time Mirror by Di Mainstone is now at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House Time Mirror by Di Mainstone is now at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House Di Mainstone's kaleidoscopic image of Blackwell in preparation for Time Mirror Di Mainstone's kaleidoscopic photograph of the detail at Blackwell in preparation for Time Mirror Time Mirror by Di Mainstone is at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House for Lakes Ignite 2018

Introducing Di Mainstone… an artist who combines sculpture, dance, architecture and technology to create body-centric instruments and installations. These devices always relate to the human body and invite visitors to be curious, move their body, be playful and get involved!

I often collaborate with engineers and scientists to create these body-centric inventions – many of them behave like musical instruments and contain sensors that follow the movement of the user to trigger different sounds.

I’ve invented the term ‘movician’ to describe the player of my wearable instruments: part-mover/part-musician!

I am one of the WIRED Innovation Fellows and last year was artist in residence for the European city of science in Manchester where we made a piece called Sensory Soundpit which you can see here:

One of my most well travelled art-works is a piece called the Human Harp – a digital musical device that transforms suspension bridges into giant harps so that people can play them!

I have taken part many art residencies at institutes such as Eyebeam Centre for Art and Technology in New York, XS Labs in Montreal, V2_Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam, Swedish National Touring Theatre in Stockholm, the Sage in Gateshead and the European City of Science to name a few.

My sonic sculptures and installations have been exhibited extensively, most notably at the V&A, the Barbican, the National Portrait Gallery, Eyebeam NYC and the Swedish National Touring Theatre. They have been featured by CBC Radio ‘q’ with Shad, BBC World Service, New Yorker, New York Times, Time Out and the Observer.

Another of my passions is filmmaking – I use film as a tool to show how my sonic sculptures work and give them a setting. I call these Sound Fiction films!

What will you be creating for Lakes Ignite 2018?

My proposal is called Time Mirror and it is an interactive sculpture that will allow audiences of all ages to experience and capture the stunning Lake District surroundings in an experimental and abstract way.

In my Time Mirror creation for Lakes Ignite, participants will be at the centre of this abstract transient landscape, being able to create their own unique experience, which can be captured using a mobile phone or camera.

When reading and thinking about the 500 million years of geological activity that made the landscape of the Lake District – I kept thinking about time. I am calling the piece Time Mirror because I would like it to act as a sort of visual time-machine, shifting and reconfiguring this ancient landscape that took so long to come into being – in the blink of an eye.

Time Mirror will capture this moment in ‘time’ in a dream like way, through abstracted elements of colour, texture, landscape and portrait – in the same way as a memory provides the essence of an experience rather an exact replica of what happened.

Sounds interesting… tell us more about your artwork

Time Mirror is a large tessellated funnel shaped structure. The exterior of the funnel is fashioned out of robust water resistant materials that work with the surrounding landscape and its interior is fashioned out of polished metal that behaves like a mirror.

Around its edge are a series of reflective panels, which can be gently rotated to bounce reflections of the landscape into the mirrored funnel. The funnel can spin 360 degrees to reflect the landscape from any angle. The funnel can also tilt down to reflect the ground or lakes and also tilt up to reflect the mountains or even the clouds in the sky or the stars at night.

Time Mirror allows participants to frame themselves within a section of the landscape of their own choosing

As you approach the structure you can see an abstract version of yourself within the landscape reflected in the mirrored funnel. The mirrored funnel has a small central peephole used to frame the landscape and subject from the exterior.

If you are with a friend, they can connect their phone to the peephole and take a picture or film of you as you move the mirrored columns to and fro to animate their reflection and the reflection of the landscape in the funnel. The photographer can see the image of the subject reflected from the dish onto the rotating columns, bouncing back and forth infinitely. The photographer can then film or take static shots of them through the peephole without themselves or the camera being visible at all in the reflections.

The photographer or sitter can also control the funnel by gently spinning the rim so that the sitter then becomes part of a kaleidoscopic kinetic portrait that captures the essence of time, landscape and human beings through sound, light, movement and playful interaction.

What are the connections between your artwork for Lakes Ignite and the Lake District as a World Heritage cultural landscape?

When I began considering this brief I asked myself how can I encourage visitors to the Lake District to interact with and become part of this scenic landscape?

How can I invite them to consider their place within the 500 million years of geological process that it took to produce this unique formation of mountains, lakes and picturesque beauty? How can I then encourage them to share their experience with the project socially?

I immediately thought of a commission I did recently for the National Portrait Gallery. I created a smaller version of this concept I am proposing called the Cubist Portrait Machine for an event celebrating the Picasso Portrait exhibition in January 2017. I created a collection of reflective body-centric objects, which transformed visitors into living portraits, which were captured on the visitors smartphones. The concept was phenomenally successful and it made me realise that this could work well on a bigger scale, with a larger device capturing an individual’s portrait embedded within a landscape (as opposed to a room in a gallery) – and so Time Mirror was born!

Where will people be able to see your artwork?

The sculpture will be seen at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House on the edge of Windemere and perhaps also Windermere Jetty later in the year.

And when can people visit?

You can visit Time Mirror at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House from 18 May until the end of September.

And a few questions about the Lake District… What makes the Lakes a special place for you?

I paid my first visit to Windermere a few weeks ago and was struck by the epic view across the lake from the Windemere Jetty museum. Being a resident of gritty East London it is so refreshing to experience that kind of expansive horizon. If I lived in the Lakes I have a feeling that this unique landscape would be a constant source of inspiration.

During a visit to the Lake District what would be your 3 fave cultural hot spots or events?

So far I’ve only visited Windermere Jetty – I’m looking forward to exploring more on my next visit.

If you could choose your one favourite view in the Lakes, where would it be?

So far I have only seen one view of Windemere from the Jetty at the Jetty Museum. Even on a grizzly raining day it was still spectacular. Can’t wait to discover more spectacular Lakes views over the coming months.

See more of Di Mainstone’s work at
Twitter: @DiMainstone

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18 May until end of September

The Time Mirror experience will open alongside Blackwell’s Centre of Ceramic Art exhibition from 18 May until the end of the July. The Centre of Ceramic Art exhibition will run until 9 September. Whilst visiting Time Mirror be sure to make time for lunch or cakes in the Tea Room and a browse around the Contemporary Craft Shop to pick up some beautifully unique handcrafted gifts.

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House: Bowness-on-Windermere, LA23 3JT

Di Mainstone's kaleidoscopic photograph of Blackwell in preparation for Time Mirror
Di Mainstone’s kaleidoscopic photograph of Blackwell in preparation for Time Mirror

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Lakes Ignite 2018 presents six specially commissioned contemporary artworks to celebrate the Lake District’s designation as a World Heritage site. From January to July 2018, six artists are bringing their creative vision to the Lakes in a unique collection of artworks that are free to visit and explore.

A celebration of contemporary art in a World Heritage landscape

Each installation provides a different perspective on our World Heritage story using very different media including metal, wood, mirrors, inflatables, performance and virtual reality. So, whether you’re 8 or 80, come and spark your imagination in 2018 and experience art in our celebrated Lake District landscape.

Tell us what you think about Lakes Ignite and be entered into a draw to win a hamper of Cumbrian goodies courtesy of Rheged!

Lakes Ignite 2018 – Festival Map
Lakes Ignite 2018 – Festival Map