Virtual reality dancersA new virtual reality experience will open at Lion Salt Works Museum on 01 December as part of the museum’s collaboration with renowned dancer and choreographer, Martin Hylton.

Funded by Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund, Salt is a fully immersive dance piece, presented in 360° virtual reality, reflecting the gruelling work that was involved in producing salt at the UK’s only remaining open-pan salt works.

Part of Meeting Point2, a year-long project led by contemporary art agency Arts&Heritage that sees artists partner with museums in Yorkshire, the North West and the North East to produce new artworks inspired by the museums and their collections, Salt gives visitors the chance to step into the artwork for a truly unique experience.

Chorographer Martin Hylton said: “Looking at the archive material at Lion Salt Works Museum, I was really struck by the movement and physical, hard work involved in raking the salt from the pans.

“The process the workers went through really lends itself to choreography and dance; the laboured and heavy movement involved in ‘skimming’ the salt into tubs.

“The piece I’ve created reflects that hard, physical work and by filming it in 360° virtual reality, the viewer can be completely immersed in the moment. People will get a sense of what it would have been like to work in the factory.”

Visitors to the exhibition will be provided with a virtual reality headset to view the dance piece which is set inside a salt pan. Dancing in water, representing the brine used in the salt making process, dancers capture the physicality of the manufacturing process whilst bringing Lion Salt Works Museum’s unique heritage to life.

One of the four historic open-pan salt-making sites in the world and recognised as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Lion Salt Works Museum opened as a major visitor attraction in 2015 following a £10m restoration and redevelopment. It tells the story of salt through fun, interactive displays including a sound and light show, a ‘subsiding house’ and an automaton.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “We have a strong background of working with artists and we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to tell the story of salt and Lion Salt Works Museum itself.

“Martin Hylton’s use of 360° filming and virtual reality is something we’ve not done before and I’m sure it will bring the museum experience to life for people visiting us during the exhibition.”

Timandra Nichols, director at Arts&Heritage said: “Martin’s innovative ideas around dance and use of new technology make this a very exciting commission.

“It’s helping to push the boundaries of choreography and transform what we think of a traditional museum experience.”

Salt, part of Meeting Point2, is on display at Lion Salt Works Museum from 01 December to Spring 2018.

Funded by Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund and led by contemporary art agency Arts&Heritage, Meeting Point2 presents artworks in unexpected places and supports small and medium scale museums to commission artists, who will create a piece of work in response to the venue.

Virtual reality dance