About the project

This twelve-year project commenced as a SPACE commission in response to Queen Mary University research into older people’s experience failing to inform development of new technologies. In 2007  artist Loraine Leeson met The Geezers, a men’s group at AgeUK Bow, who wished to work with tidal power. With the help of engineers and further fundraising they developed and tested a prototype turbine for the Thames, held two exhibitions, worked with young people to produce a wind turbine for an AgeUK roof, contributed to three university research projects, conducted numerous joint presentations, collaborated with a seniors’ group in Pittsburgh, and produced floating water wheels to provide aeration for rivers, the last installed in 2019 in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

GeezerPower from Loraine Leeson on Vimeo. Camerawork © Jim Prevett, SPACE 2007.

The project was realised through a participatory arts process that led to the creation and application of prototype renewable energy devices, used as a means of disseminating knowledge at community level while aiming to influence wider practice and policy. 

The effectiveness of the project lay in its use of art as a means of creative facilitation, production and collaboration, which set out to harness community initiative. Through this process the experience of community elders created a foundation for new ideas that addressed real need and enabled specific local knowledge to create innovative solutions that could also impact the future.