We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

2016 arts on the waterways programme

Take a look at some of the art highlights for 2016.

The Exbury Egg by Stephen Turner at Finsley Gate Wharf, Super Slow Way

Super Slow Way                                

This major arts programme is being shaped by artists and people of Pennine Lancashire. Led by the programme’s director, Laurie Peake, local, national and international artists and arts organisations are making new works across art forms inspired by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Manufacturing past and present, the natural environment and the digital world are the focus. Funded through Arts Council England’s Creative People & Places programme, artists working in 2016 include Suzanne Lacy, Karen Mirza, Martina Mullaney, Ian McMillan and Anthony Schrag. The Kinara Festival will explore Islamic art and culture and community commissions underpin the whole Super Slow Way programme. Supported by ACE Creative People & Places programme.

Canal Laureate                                  

The collaboration between the Trust and the Poetry Society continues with the second canal poet, Luke Kennard (in the photo). Luke will explore his Laureateship by foot, writing about canal-side journeys. His poems and surreal observations from the narrow road are being published on the project blog www.waterlines.org.uk.

You can also follow his adventures via Twitter @canalpoetry.

The Ring

The Ring is an 18 month series of events and commissions celebrating the region’s canals and rivers, focused around the 21 mile circle of waterways made up by the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the Droitwich Canals and the River Severn. Artists will draw their inspiration through working with local communities before reflecting on the area’s cultural heritage through their artwork, which could be anything from sculptures to performance pieces or installations.

The initiative is being paid for through contributions from a range of funders including Arts Council England, local authorities, the Bransford Trust, the Elmley Foundation and the Rowlands Trust. A project team, including artistic director Cathy Mager and project manager Manda Graham, has been appointed to curate and guide the project, on behalf of a partnership made up of the Canal & River Trust – the charity that cares for the waterways – local councils, Trusts and arts organisations.

Hole & Corner

Photographer and writer, Toby Granville, spent several days on a historic freight boat on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire canal. His resulting photographs featured in the summer issue of Hole & Corner magazine.

Floating Cinema 2016

The Trust is a lead partner in this year’s floating film programme in London, led by Up Projects, curated by Hari Kunzru, acclaimed author of Gods Without Men, My Revolutions and The Impressionist. His selections will include feature films archival, shorts, experimental and artists’ films, and two new art and music commissions. Members of staff from the Trust will participate in talks and engagement activities.

The Line 
The Trust is working with The Line on plans to add a new sculpture by Michael Craig-Martin to the sculpture walk alongside the River Lee in east London at Bow Locks. Sculptures already installed along the waterway route will be promoted in 2016 through engagement activities. Works by the River Lee are by Abigail Fallis, Thomas J Price and Damien Hirst.

Dance on Water

The Trust has led the fundraising and project management of Dance on Water, a £65,000 arts and young people project, based on the Stratford to Stratford initiative in 2015. It engaged 16-25 year olds from disadvantaged areas of Birmingham and Salford in a series of waterways inspired dance workshops in collaboration with The Lowry in Salford and the Birmingham Hippodrome.

20 young people were then chosen from the workshops for a unique canal journey with dancer-choreographers from Matthew Bourne's New Adventures. They devised a new contemporary dance that was performed at The Lowry during U:Dance 2016 National Festival, and Birmingham's Hippodrome in July.

What would happen if we reactivated an industrial lime kiln?

Arts Alive Wales and the Trust host artists Rob Smith and Charles Danby for a short residency to research the question ‘What would happen if we reactivated an industrial lime kiln?’ Rob and Charles have been exploring the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and its working landscape of canals, quarries, tramways and kilns. NESTA and the BBC are supporting the digital streaming of a series of live illuminations of heated quicklime into the Cardiff Contemporary and the city centre. There will be a streamed public event at Brickworks, Williams Court, Cardiff and online on 22 October at 6-7pm, followed by an artists’ talk at Brickworks, 2-3pm on 23 October. The installation will remain open to the public until 19 November.

Click here for details

Academic research

The Trust is a partner in a new PhD Trainor Scholarship with King’s College London. This three year research, funded by the university and the Trust will explore creativity, waste and water to inform our understanding of the culture of water and waterways in the distant past and today. Beth Whalley is the selected scholar and will being in September 2016.

Arts and place making on waterways

Working closely with a number of waterways and their partnerships, Arts on the Waterways will invite artists, landscape designers and engineers to walk and re-imagine selected sites to pose new perspectives. These will be presented at creative workshops alongside other experts, discussing:

  • the role of artists and creative designers in re-visioning waterways and creative engagement

  • the potential of ‘social design’ and co-design to build new forms of community engagement, sense of place and ownership

  • temporary land use strategies that support new forms of enterprise and independent trading, working collaboratively outside and within the Trust

Welsh artists’ residencies international:            

Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, has teamed up with the Arts Council of Wales to create six artists’ residencies across waterways in Wales and in Europe, curated by Addo. Three have now completed. In 2016 Cheon Pyo Lee is currently resident artist for the Swansea Canal and Mo Abd-Ulla is based at Trefor Basin in north Wales.

Exchange residencies for artists Nicky Coutts and Dan Rees will complete the series later in 2016 linking Welsh waterways with Venice and northern Italy’s inland Waterways and the Emscher river in Germany as part of Emscherkunst. A final exhibition and publication in Wales will complete the programme in 2017.

Nicky Coutts Under the Weather (2014) ©

Ikon - Black Country Voyages: The Auspicious Journey

A converted canal boat tours the Black Country with a project that engages young people with local arts, heritage and cultural organisations.

Last date edited: 18 October 2016