Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Popular augmented reality experience is back on tour in Devon

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The captivating stories of forgotten female writers have been brought to life in a thought provoking augmented reality installation, which is continuing its tour of libraries across Devon.

Unlocking the Cage is an immersive AR experience that takes viewers on a journey through the lives and works of four women writers, whose books reside within the “Cage” beneath the floors of Exeter Library.

Exeter Library’s special collections lie below the library floor in what is known as “the cage”. Out of 800 books in the collection, only eight are written by women. Unlocking the Cage is an immersive visual and audio journey through the lives and works of four of these women.

After a successful launch at Exeter Library last year, Unlocking the Cage will be visiting libraries in Tavistock, Torquay, Cullompton, Barnstaple and Seaton over the coming months.

The installation features a uniquely designed book which viewers use to navigate their journey. With each turn of the page, a new chapter begins on the screen, breathing life into the intricate illustrations.

Unlocking the Cage has been researched, written and narrated by award-winning author Kim Sherwood. Kim, shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2019, is known for her award-winning debut novel Testament, and her recent James Bond novel Double or Nothing. Kim was selected as the first woman to write a James Bond novel for the franchise, with two more books on the horizon that will make up a brand new 007 trilogy.

Of Unlocking the Cage, Kim Sherwood said: “Though there are only eight books written by women in the Cage, these few names represent a long revolution, from the rise of Bluestocking salons to the campaign for female suffrage. Immersing myself in the lives of these pioneering women connected me to a line of writers stretching back to the eighteenth century. I’m thrilled to bring their inspiring stories into the now with this exciting collaboration.”

Library customers have described the experience as “eye opening”, “beautifully curated” and “a really different way to look at history”. It is free to enjoy, with no need to book.

You can experience Unlocking the Cage for free at select libraries across Devon on the dates listed below and during regular opening hours:

LibraryUnlocking the Cage dates 
TavistockSaturday 1st – Saturday 22nd April 2023
TorquaySaturday 6th – Wednesday 31st May 2023
CullomptonFriday 9th June – Saturday 1st July 2023
BarnstapleFriday 7th July – Saturday 29th July 2023
SeatonSaturday 5th – Saturday 26th August 2023

The exhibit can be enjoyed alone, or in groups of up to 4 people at a time and takes approximately 28 minutes to complete.

Rae Hoole, Creative Communities Producer at Libraries Evolve, said: “Unlocking the Cage has visited seven libraries across the county since launching at Exeter last year, and we have been pleased to hear how much customers are enjoying it. The masterful storytelling is really brought to life through the augmented reality book, and is a truly unique experience that people have been surprised to find in their local library.”

Phil Gibby, Arts Council England, South West, Area Director, said: “It’s fantastic to support this creative collaboration from Libraries Unlimited, which is showcasing its unseen collection of women’s writing, now more accessible to people in Devon through immersive augmented reality. We invest in over 100 National Portfolio Organisations across the West Country – including Libraires Unlimited – and each of them plays an important and unique role in strengthening the cultural provision of the country. At the Arts Council, we believe that every person should have the opportunity to be inspired by arts and culture, and experience the benefits that creativity can bring us every day, and that is exactly what Unlocking the Cage is doing.”

Kim Sherwood worked with composers John Matthias and Jay Auborn, illustrator Sarita McNeil, creative audio company dBs Pro, and the augmented reality developer Zubr Curio to bring the stories to life in this innovative installation.

The four writers featured in the augmented reality book are:

  • Elizabeth Montagu (1718–1800), critic and host to literary salons
  • Elizabeth Carter (1717–1806), poet and translator
  • Lady Rosalind Northcote (1873 – 1950), nature and place writer
  • Ethel Lega-Weekes (1864 – 1949), historian

Libraries Unlimited is the charity responsible for running libraries in Devon and Torbay. Unlocking the Cage is just one of the activities in the wide Libraries Unlimited cultural offering.  Evolve is delivered in partnership with artists and communities and funded by Arts Council England and Exeter City Council.   

As well as Unlocking the Cage, a brand new season of events is taking place this spring in libraries across the county, all with the theme of Pride of Place. Events include live music, art, theatre and workshops, all in the comfort of the library. For further details about Evolve and future events, please visit 

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Boost News Desk
Boost News Desk
Robert Haylor has 14 years of web development experience, starting out as a web developer whilst still in his university dorm room at Birmingham City University. With a background and a strong interest in website design & development he is skilled in a variety of programming languages including PHP, MySQL, CSS3 and HTML5. As Managing Director of Boost Digital Media, he regularly jumps on to client projects on a daily basis as well as ensuring the company strategy is being implemented and is delivering results.

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