Mixed-Reality Urban Walking

A Wandle Wonder Wander is a collaborative project with XAP - Cross Arts Projects - continuing our fascination with rivers, particularly those urban waterways that have been lost and refound. This is a mixed-reality geolocation-based walk along the River Wandle in south London, exploring change, renewal, loss and quiet resilience along this special waterway.

The Wandle has a rich industrial heritage going back many centuries, when the river was harnessed for its power to move mill wheels, and the clear chalky water for growing watercress, textile dying, and an astonishing range of other industries, many of which brutally polluted the waters.  William Morris and Liberty’s both had printworks by the river.  The Wandle now has its distinctive landscape of large industrial units butting up against leafy river and meadow ecosystems, which manage to hang on, even flourish in places.

Made originally for Wandsworth Arts Festival 2021, this walk spans north from Merton Abbey Mills to the river’s confluence with the Thames.  As you walk (with your mobile device) your presence triggers fragments of sounds, floating animations and text along the route.  These fragments puncture the fabric of time momentarily, poking their past into your present.

Geo-location-based augmented-reality artwork, from Merton Abbey Mills to the River Thames

Links and maps: xartsprojects.org/wandle-wonder-wander