In the media

Symbol for Freedom


In 2020, as society was further disrupted by the Covid-19 virus, we went from a lockdown to a period of freedom, then to another lockdown or to a curfew period. The healthcare sector was overstrained and hospital staff overworked. Intensive care units were full. There was no vaccine. There was nothing to celebrate, because getting together was out of the question.


But Liberation Day on May 5th was still to come. Always a very important day in the Netherlands, 2020 was the year that the country remembered it had been occupied 80 years ago and liberated 5 years later. And now, during lockdown, it was impossible to commemorate and celebrate our freedom together at all.


Mothership had already proved that it could tell the story of war and liberation in a beautiful way, with Brandgrens. Now we wanted to honour this particular 5th of May in a special way.

While as humanity was facing one of the greatest global crises of our generation, our individual and collective freedom had not been put to such a difficult a test since the Second World War. In our society slowly dawned that a future in which we cannot be together is not a future we want.


The people who work in the healthcare sector are actually working to secure our freedom and it is precisely this group that carries the burden, precisely these people who deserve our respect.


And then, perfectly timed, Studio DRIFT (Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta) asked Mothership to join them in organizing an event that would be symbolic of freedom and hope and would warm the hearts of the citizens of Rotterdam and everyone working in the healthcare sector. The event would be visible and accessible to everyone, at home, via their personal screens. We would create an image that would touch your heart and not let go. One that, in the end, would reach people all over the world.


Collaboration with Studio DRIFT had been on our wish list for some time. In just two weeks, Mothership’s organizational experience and good relationship with the city of Rotterdam proved to be invaluable: we would be able to celebrate our freedom on the 5th of May, after all. Not like usual, but nonetheless very special!



Show: ‘Franchise Freedom’


Franchise Freedom is a ‘flying sculpture’ that, created by Studio DRIFT, questions the relationship between human beings, nature and technology. It’s a swarm of hundreds of drones that depicts the behaviour of individuals who come together, like a flock of starlings.

This coming together and the beauty of it were the subject of the show put together by Studio Drift and Mothership. In addition to the flight that Franchise Freedom normally takes, we choose for a symbol that would express respect, thanks and hope in a single gesture. The solution was magnificent.



Drones over Rotterdam


On the 5th of May 2020, despite all obstacles, we celebrated Liberation Day with a fantastic drone show over the Maas River. It had to be kept secret beforehand, to avoid massive crowds gathering, but the show was visible everywhere: Franchise Freedom was broadcast live on television and available online via various channels and could be watched from home by everyone. Alone or together, people watched and reflected and talked about freedom in different ways than usual, but no less intensely.


On the day, an impressive 300-drone swarm used the sky as its canvas as it paid tribute to freedom and health and to all of the people who were working hard to ensure our freedom and health. Drones that went their individual ways initiated the graceful movements of the whole group, intimating that individual freedom can only be protected by joint efforts. This poetic flight resulted in a fantastic image: a three-dimensional, beating heart of red lights over the river against the background of the Erasmus Bridge and the Rotterdam skyline.

The show as a whole was accompanied by the fairylike music of pianist Joep Beuving who sat performing in the hall of the Erasmus Medical Centre, the heart of research and care in the Covid-19 era.





Franchise Freedom took flight to encourage people to get through the crisis together and to encourage them to unite. It not only reached the city, but had a much greater impact. The images were shown in a livestream that was part of Dezeen Magazine’s Virtual Design Festival, put on hundreds of international art, technology and news websites, and featured in thousands of social media videos.

Response came from all over the world. Everyone was touched, moved and impressed. Even today, the images are still used as symbols of freedom and togetherness. Our idea was successful!