Saturday, 18 June 2016

Ground | GROUNDED | Underground

I've started a new project this Spring, working with Canal & River Trust (CRT) along the length of the Leeds Liverpool Canal as part of their #LL200 bi-centenary celebrations and so far it seems to be revealing some interesting things about people's connection to place.

In celebration of the 200-years, CRT have been successful in gaining Heritage Lottery Funding to restore the mile markers along the canal to their original style, bringing the 127 (and a quarter) mile length of canal closer to how it would have looked in 1894 when the first Canal, Tolls and Charges Act was passed.  The document is held in the Parliamentary Archive, which I managed to have a look through in May when I visited London for the Homeless Library exhibition opening at the Houses of Parliament.

The Act is a funny read, listing all the odd and curious items of cargo that could be transported, its passing activated a significant change in the canal infrastructure with the installation of mile, half mile and quarter mile markers along the full length.  A mechanism for measurement and charging for each quarter mile section passed, the most significant cargoes transported were that of coal and limestone, and I'm using these for my this new project, Tell it to the Water which has been commissioned by CRT for 2016.

200-years is a significant milestone (forgive the pun) it feels important to stop and rest awhile, to reflect and look back on how our use of and connection to canals has changed over these last 200-years, as well as to imagine forward into future time; where will the canal be in another 200 years? What are our hopes and dreams for its future?

Tell it to the Water asks people to write their hopes and dreams onto a strip of dissolving paper, which is then glued to their chosen piece of coal or limestone.  In a linear performance during late summer 2016 these stone-wrapped messages will be given back to the canal along its length, forever immersing memories, thoughts, hopes and dreams directly with the watery depths.

So far, the most curious thing for me is whether people choose limestone, or coal - it seems to be revealing something I'd not anticipated; I'm going to be watching this carefully over the summer to see how this develops.

If you'd like to take part then come along to one of the scheduled events, and don't forget to like the Facebook page to keep informed of this exciting project . . .