Radio 101

Radio 101 was an exhibition and FM radio station at the BCA Gallery, Bedford in 2004. It followed on from a 3 month residency Irvine spent exploring the history of the R101 airship which was built at nearby Cardington in the 1920s. The R101 set off on it’s ill-fated maiden voyage destined for Karachi on Saturday 4th of October 1930. The journey however finished in disaster as the R101 came down, after a flight of just 7.5 hours, at Allonne near Beauvais outside Paris. Of the 54 on board only six survived. The episode was a national tragedy and symbolised the end of empire, it also stirred up many stories of supernatural activity.
The installation included listening materials on both shellac discs (78s), reel to reel tapes and CDs. An overhead speaker plays conversations telephone spiritualists where Irvine attempts to make contact with the passengers and crew of the airship. A blue wall text featured the names of the music played by BBC radio for the benefit of the diners on board the airship as they flew over London. An original typed transcript of a séance where three Scottish women received messages from the dead crew in the days following the crash. A further array of banners and posters, newspapers and books both created artworks and historic documents were installed for visitors to browse through.
The radio station ran on the anniversary of the flight and lasted for the seven and a half hour duration. Irvine invited other artists to contribute, among those who made work for the radio station are Alejandra & Aeron, Dinah Bird, Barry Burns, Matt Cook, INS, Kaffe Matthews, Dan Norton, Scanner & Mark Vernon.

Radio 101

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© 2020
Zoë Irvine