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As Shadows Return by Andy McKeown

As Shadows Return by Andy McKeown


A light installation celebrating the completion of the first phase of restoration to the world’s first iron-framed building – Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings.

As Shadows Return hints at 200 years of the factory’s history and is a celebration of its future. The ‘dragon on the hill’ awakens. 

World-renowned light artist, Andy McKeown, has reanimated the Main Mill building on the site with silhouettes and shadows of the mechanical and human activity that once took place within. Light and sound are artfully entwined to reveal glimpses of the building’s incredible evolution, and the people who toiled within. The piece will constantly change and evolve, so there will always be a reason to look again.

The Main Mill is one of the most important buildings of the industrial revolution and was the first iron-framed building in the world. It is known as the grandparent of the modern-day skyscraper and changed city skylines forever. The pioneering design and layout of the mill was the forerunner of methods used by specialist industrial architects a century later. The locals called it the ‘dragon on the hill’ due to the serrated roof, the billowing steam and roars from the machinery within, and the eerie glow from the gas lighting, which was new to Shrewsbury at the time. 

The shadowy forms will light up the building every day from sunset between 21 December and 31 January. You don’t have to be on site to see it; it is visible from outside the Flaxmill site to passers-by. No booking necessary. The visitor centre is open every Saturday from 10 - 4 for those who would like more information about the history of the Flaxmill, but please note that As Shadows Return does not commence until sunset.

Take part in the conversation using the hashtag #ShadowsReturn 

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