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Amazing Nemo machine goes on tour

Written by on June 5, 2018

A fantastical, three-metre long creation named Nemo is making its way around the Nene Valley, giving people the chance to get inspired and find out how it came to be made.

Nemo was built in late 2017 by the imaginative team at Festive Road in Milton Keynes, who were commissioned by Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT) to create a water instrument to feature in their performances of a specially-composed piece of music called ‘Nene’.

Composer and former NMPAT pupil Benjamin Till wrote the 25-minute piece after walking the length of the river from Badby to Wisbech, collecting inspiration from its sights, sounds, smells and history.

Nene was performed at three concerts as part of NMPAT’s Big Sing programme and Nemo accompanied more than 1200 young musicians at concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, Derngate in Northampton and Peterborough Cathedral. This provided an impressive launch of the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme, a five-year Heritage Lottery funded project to celebrate and look after the River Nene.

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Nemo was played onstage at all three concerts by pupils from the Reach for the Stars group, run by NMPAT, which encourages pupils of all abilities to get involved in music-making. By operating a series of levers, cranks and handles, Nemo recreates the sounds of the river by cascading water, dripping and splashing through bucket wheels and paddles. Hidden amongst the cogs and mechanisms are frogs, reeds and fish, worked in metal.

Peter Smalley, Chief Executive of NMPAT says, ‘We are delighted that Nemo has a life of its own, beyond the musical performances of Nene, and that people will get a chance to see it up close in venues along the river. This remarkable art installation deserves to be seen.’

Thanks to their many partners, Nenescape has the great pleasure in taking Nemo on tour and helping us to collect more ‘voices’ of people living, working and spending time in the Nene Valley. The tour will take in several locations along the river, including the Wildlife Trust’s Nene Wetlands visitor centre at Rushden Lakes, Nene Park in Peterborough, Abington Park Museum in Northampton and Stanwick Lakes, where visitors will be able to see the beautifully-worked details of Nemo for themselves.

Nenescape welcomes involvement from anyone with interest in the wildlife, heritage and landscape of the Nene Valley, and is particularly keen to collect contributions from people with stories or memories about the river to support a digital storytelling project using the voices of 900 people. Please visit to contribute a story or contact Alison Cross at [email protected] for more information.

For further information, including dates and locations of Nemo’s tour, please visit the Nenescape website at and stay up to date with our social media @nenescape.

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