new augmented reality app has been launched for residents and visitors of the Wirral, which tells stories from history about the area which can be viewed and explored via a smartphone.

The project was led by artist Alan Dunn, who designed the iconic Ray and Julie chairs sculpture on London Road. The project is designed to explore Wirral's contemporary folklore and social history through stories which have been condensed down to just four words.

It was created with the help of seven artists, including Dunn, visiting three locations - Port Sunlight, New Ferry and Spital - with the aim of uncovering the hidden history of those towns.

The idea to create the project came to Dunn as he was walking his dog during lockdown, as the artist began to explore in more detail the Spital neighbourhood on his own doorstep. 

Dunn discovered that Italian prisoners of war were once housed in scout huts on the edge of Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve woods in Spital, not far from where Harold Wilson lived. The paths through the woods were built by those prisoners of war, which is now a nature reserve and park filled with birdsong.

The final project features thirty stories from the area, all distilled down to four words each - that reveal connections to a community in transformation after a massive explosion, hidden viruses and the power of nature and wildlife during a pandemic. The project also discovered other unexpected links to ‘A Clockwork Orange’, Batman and even the Beach Boys.

Dunn stated: 

"I had the idea for this project during lockdown 2020, sitting at home and needing to savour and find out more about these areas that are all within a 4km radius of where I live… I wanted to work with regional artists only and have socially-distanced walks with them in these places, just looking, chatting, researching and meeting people, gradually peeling back the layers to reveal stories that are not just history but part of people’s everyday lives who have lived here."

Dunn continued: 

"I wanted to explore AR (augmented reality) as it kind of reflects our interest in narratives that are hidden until you start looking… Some of the things we found were heart-warming, funny or occasionally disturbing but wanted this free app to encourage people to look further for themselves into various important topics.”
To access the project, users must visit: www.fourwordswirral.com on their smartphone and download the free digital art app to visualise the augmented reality sculptures in the real world as they travel around the Wirral.
Jun 28, 2021
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