exhibition by UK based artists
The oldest roller coasters were descended from the so-called "Russian
Mountains," which were specially constructed hills of ice located
especially around Saint Petersburg, Russia. Built in the 17th century,
the slides were constructed to a height of between 70 feet (21 m) and
80 feet (24 m), consisted of a 50 degree drop, and were reinforced by
wooden supports. These slides became popular with the Russian upper
class. Catherine II of Russia was such a fan of these attractions that
she had a few of these slides built on her own property. "Russian
mountains" remains the term for roller coasters in many languages,
such as Spanish (la montaña rusa), Italian (montagne russe),
French (les montagnes russes) and Portuguese (montanha-russa). Ironically,
the Russian term for roller coaster, (amerikanskie gorki), translates
literally as "American Mountains."
There is some dispute as to who was the first to put this operation
on wheels. Some historians say the first real roller coaster was built
under the orders of Catherine II in the Gardens of Oreinbaum in St.
Petersburg in the year 1784. (The lawn where Catherine's roller coaster
once stood, at the Sliding Hill Pavilion, now sits vacant). Other historians
believe that the first roller coaster was built by the French. The Les
Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville)
constructed in Paris in 1812 and the Promenades Aeriennes both featured
wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them
on course, and higher speeds. The first loop track was probably also
built in Paris from an English design in 1846, with a single-person
wheeled sled running through a 13-foot (4 m) diameter vertical loop.
‘American Mountains’ is a group exhibition by Ed
Atkins, Jamie George, Rebecca Kressley, Siôn Parkinson, Patrick
Ward and Richard Whitby.