Project began through the R.S.A. Residencies for Scotland at The Glasgow Sculpture Studios
4th – 17th November 2013
Urban Water ways contribute to the historic fabric of our city, industrially, agriculturally, economically and socially, they are also the ecological green and vibrant corridors running between our roads and housing schemes. This project addresses our relationship today to these rivers in Glasgow. Through a two week residency at the Glasgow Sculpture Studios I constructed a mobile studio, a simple space that can take a voyage on water, this takes the form of a folding boat. It also has a Perspex bottom which works under bridges and trees in rivers to look into the water. This first stage of the project is largely about object design and how this responds to the challenges of mobility and accessibility of waterways for an urban dweller. For example the structures folds, to fit inside a cupboard at home, and to rest on a bicycle trailer which can be taken along the bridleways along rivers to get to the water’s edge. The processes of construction are relatively simple and transparent, reinforcing an emphasis on D.I.Y. and repeatability.
The boat was named ‘The Nolly’ by two passing dog walkers who stopped to help me launch her at the end of the residency, into the Canal outside the Sculpture Studios, they shared some hilarious stories about the area and they suggested the boat takes its name from the locals title for the canal, ‘The Nolly’. The structure completed (with space for adaptations) the project moved into a second phase during the winter months which was about a personal engagement with the structure and journeys in sections of the river Kelvin to the confluence at the Clyde. A series of pieces of underwater footage from this journey are stitched together in a sequence of film that shares the invisible details from the river bed, recorded during this journey. A second short film uses clips made at different points of the river, looking from the river bed up to the sky.
The boat itself and the first of these films were presented for an exhibition in Graz, Austria at <Rotor> as part of a series of exhibition titles ‘Measures of saving the world.’ For which I brought together several items from different projects spanning the last year and 1/2, which talk of issues relating to the theme of water. For this exhibition the audience were invited to sit inside the boat, suspended on dry land and from here rather than moving as you should in a boat, the viewer was led through the underwater film and their imagination on a journey in the river. The presentation was such that the set up played with the idea of games, video games and how we simulate experiences without actually having them, reflecting on a disconnection in the relationship between ourselves and the environment.
‘The Nolly’ project aims to continue as a platform for interaction and experimentation during the summer months of 2014 in Glasgow in which the hope is to invite a series of individuals (fishermen, biologists, river organisations to the passing public) for a solo journey with me in or around the boat. In this case each conversation would be collected as documented momentum to contribute to a wider discourse about the role and future of Glasgow’s rivers. I am also interested to invite other creatives to interact with a chosen water body through the boat and to share their responses. I am currently developing a series of small ‘kit like’ components that can be used by people from the boat to understand and record different sensory experiences of the water. The approach is to develop tools that either transform scientific equipment into something simple and accessible or to invent playful objects that might ask us to pay attention to aspects of water that are not at all about a scientific analysis.