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The charity making life better by water

Artful announcement for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Super Slow Way, a major arts commissioning programme established to create a lasting legacy of arts and culture in Pennine Lancashire has announced the launch of its programme for 2015-17.

The programme includes a specially commissioned symphony to mark the bicentennial of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, a mass participation project drawing on the traditions of Shape Note singing and Sufi chanting, and launching this autumn, a floating arts centre for women on the canal.

Two hundred years ago the canal was the conduit for the coal and cotton that fed the Industrial Revolution in Pennine Lancashire. Now Super Slow Way seeks to start a creative revolution, this time powered by art and people. Super Slow Way's series of signature commissions and residencies for 2015 - 2017 responds to three themes inspired by the canal: manufacture, past and present, the natural environment, and the digital world. Above all, as the name suggests, the projects will allow time to develop ideas and relationships between artists and communities.

Touring arts centre

idle women's touring arts centre, which navigates the canals and waterways across North West Britain makes its debut this autumn on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. To launch idle women's maiden voyage, Karen Mirza,​ an artist based in both London and Istanbul, will hold a Gossip, an overnight gathering for women to meet, generate and share ideas.

Floating workspace

The Exbury Egg is a temporary, self-sustaining floating workspace designed by and for the artist Stephen Turner. An environmental observatory, a collecting and collating centre with integral storage and display areas, the Egg will be sited along the Leeds & Liverpool canal next summer to be used by local groups on permaculture and bee-keeping projects.

Spiritual expression

US artist Suzanne Lacy is developing a mass participation project Shapes of Water, Sounds of Hope (working title), which will involve hundreds of local residents. Drawing on the traditions of Shape Note singing and Sufi chanting-simple, rhythmic forms of communal spiritual expression - people will honour these centuries-old traditions as they come together to celebrate the natural, communal and spiritual spaces they may share in common.


To mark the bicentennial of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in 2016, the Super Slow Way Symphony, by composer Ian Stephens with a libretto by poet Ian McMillan, will be debuted on 16 October 2016 in three sites simultaneously. The piece will be performed in three movements, the first in Liverpool by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and choirs, the second in Leeds with brass bands and choirs, ending in King George's Hall, Blackburn with community choirs and musicians, including exponents of South Asian traditions.

Super Slow Way is a major arts commissioning programme aimed at creating a lasting legacy of arts and culture for communities in Pennine Lancashire. Taking its inspiration from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal the programme comprises a series of signature commissions, residencies and collaborations between artists and local people. Super Slow Way is funded by the Arts Council England's Creative People & Places programme, the £2 million project is supported by a partnership including the Canal & River Trust, Newground, four local authorities and Arts Partnership Pennine Lancashire (APPL).

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Last Edited: 18 September 2015

photo of a location on the canals
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