Little did the much celebrated professor James Bell Pettigrew know when he built a flying machine at the age of 70, that his life and work would be the inspiration for a new photographic exhibition over a century later.
But he is and it’s curated by postgraduate museum and galleries studies students from St Andrews University.
Through the photographs of local artist Kit Martin, it provides a platform in which to admire both the art, and science of flight.
The professor’s own contraption flew him 60 feet down Abbey Walk before resulting in a crash landing and a broken hip!
And the students aim to recapture that same frisson of excitement, no doubt enjoyed by the professor as he took to the air, by giving visitors the experience of 360 degree videos and photospheres via an ultra hi-tech Samsung Gear headset included in the exhibition.
It’s the combination of the traditional with today’s cutting edge technology that the students behind the five months of preparation that bring this exhibition to fruition, say is the main attraction.
“With large institutions and exhibition spaces these days, audiences expect an interactive experience so it’s been a big coup for us to have this sort of technology as an added attraction to compliment Skyward,” explained Catherine Anne Cassidy, one of the eight students responsible for the show.
“We’ve worked closely with the University’s science department to come up with the visuals which we are delighted with.
“Not a lot of people will have experienced such technology and where it is has already been available in a gallery format, the public have been charged as much as £40 for the privilege, so we think it will prove an added attraction for the public!”
The students were given a tight remit regarding the type of exhibition format but are confident the end result will pull in the audiences.
“It had to be photography based and so working with Kit Martin was the ideal fit,” said Elodie Ferreira.
“The group’s other desire was to have a strong local link with the overall subject matter and with the Bell Pettigrew connection being so intriguing, it was quickly agreed it would have a wide appeal.”
And with the use of traditional print, photography and carefully selected specimens, as well as the latest technological wizardry, the students have certainly covered all bases and will no doubt attract a healthy footfall. Thankfully their feet will be firmly on the ground during the experience.
Skyward - A Study In Flight, opens to the public at the Gateway Galleries, St Andrews on Saturday, March 12, it runs until May 15.