Hinterlands is a national arts programme promoting wellbeing and connecting communities, with participatory events along three remote rural, urban and suburban waterways: Pontymoile, Sheffield and Enfield & Tottenham.

Children's prototype designs cut into wood and metal at BloQs Children's prototype designs cut into wood and metal at BloQs

Hinterlands forms part of the national Arts on the Waterways portfolio of Trust-led, partnership and third party projects, which aim to support and promote:

  • artistic quality and ambition: to work with high quality contemporary artists across art forms and support upcoming practitioners
  • being local: to build closer connections with communities, particularly those that are underserved
  • collaboration: to nurture more co-creation and work with agile, inventive practitioners and collectives
  • resilience and sustainability: to follow environmental responsibilities and to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible.

Hinterlands: London

Taking place til March 2022, Hinterlands London aims to reactivate the canal and waterside in Enfield & Tottenham as a vibrant, cultural, communal space, curated by schools and community groups. The canal will become a dynamic canvas, where artists can showcase their work and meaningfully connect with new audiences, outside of conventional art context.

The programme will be delivered through three strands:

  • Heartlands: Artists Joshua Bilton, Paula Bernard-Groves and Julia Elmore will partner with local schools/community groups and work with participants to transform pockets of neglected waterside in Enfield, Edmonton and Tottenham into well-loved, creative and vibrant community spaces.

  • Spillway: In the summer of 2021, there will be a showcase of participants’ achievements to promote the canal as a vibrant creative canvas by Installing/launching artworks produced by Heartland participants on the three sites and holding a series of celebratory community events including an intergenerational theatrical exploration of the canal led by Face Front.

  • History Detectives: 30 Enfield secondary school students (aged 12-14) will partner with local historians Ray Tuthill & Dr Jim Lewis & digital media artists SDNA, to assemble a compelling narrative of the canal’s evolution which celebrates the people who have contributed to the area’s history and innovations which will manifest in digital artwork and an app, using augmented reality to animate forgotten heritage sites.

Collaboration with local schools

A staggering 39 educational and learning workshops with 146 participants have been delivered so far by project artists with another 20 and a big performance to go. The Prince of Wales School has even adopted a stretch of the canal.

Raynham School

Local cultural partner Building BloQs, London's largest open workshop for professional makers to work in wood, metal, CNC, textiles, plastic, paint and additive manufacturing have been incredibly supportive by hosting professional development tours for young people and children.

Artists Paula Barnard Groves and Julia Elmore are working with year 3 pupils at Raynham Primary School to create a collaborative canal-side sculpture or structure, working from concept, design, through to prototype.

The resulting artwork designed by the children will be temporarily displayed along the Lee Navigation running through the Meridian Water Development in Edmonton, N18 and exhibited at Building BloQs.

The children visited the canal and toured BloQs to see the machines and tools that will help create their artworks, including laser cutter, 3D printer and router, in operation. 


Ferry Lane School

Since 2019, year 4 pupils from Ferry Lane School in Tottenham have been creatively exploring their local stretch of canal on the Lee Navigation, with artist Joshua Bilton. 

This is a challenging stretch of canal. It's a busy commuter route for cyclists and not always perceived as relaxing and welcoming space. Josh has been working with the children to explore the canal and waterside from both a human and animal perspective, to create their own magical, fantastical creatures and stories in response, and explore the canal as a threshold space between the real and the imaginary. 

In this way, as a group, the children have built their own subjective relationship with the canal and developed a collective sense of ownership of this space. Despite the disruption of the pandemic curtailing the number of workshops and events we could deliver with the school, the children’s confidence in expressing themselves, their belief in their artistic abilities and their creative writing/story-telling skills have significantly evolved throughout their collaboration with Josh.

The collaboration is working towards a temporary active sculpture and a creative toolkit to promote longer term creative engagement with this stretch of canal.

Last date edited: 9 September 2021