Water-based art installation launches at Gloucester Docks
By David Wood
Luke Jerram's 'Crossings' begins its tour of UK canals, lakes and docklands in Gloucester Docks this month.
The water-based art installation comes to the National Waterways Museum, Gloucester, from Thursday, August 10, until Saturday, September 2.
Nine decorated rowing boats will house speakers playing incredible true stories from around the world. Each one is an account of a water crossing, so, as people propel the boats around the Docks, they take themselves on an audio journey. The telling of the stories will blend with the action of rowing, and the noise from the water, turning each crossing into a unique personal experience.
The 10 very different stories to choose from range from the personal experience of 13-year-old Kurdish refugee Mana Azarish to Jo Royle's account of life onboard Plastiki - a vessel she sailed across the Pacific to raise awareness of plastic in our oceans.
Broadcaster Andy Kershaw shares his adventures on the Niger, accompanied by a singing boatmen and other musical treats, and retired barber Mr Fan takes the water-borne listener back to his 1979 experience as one of the 'Vietnamese Boat People'.
Luke Jerram explains why he's bringing 'Crossings' to Gloucester: "The Docks have many tales to tell so I can think of no better place to share the stories on our rowing boats. They come from people who have had extraordinary boating experiences.
"Boats can be a form of transport, a vehicle to enable work, a method of escape, a tool of employment. They are a way of connecting people and places. They can simply be an object of leisure.
"Boats are symbolic of journeying into the unknown and of the journey of life. I really hope that people enjoy rowing around Gloucester Docks and being transported to another place and circumstance."
Anna Finn, community development & attractions manager for the Canal & River Trust, added: "We're delighted to welcome Luke's work to the Docks. For centuries the city of Gloucester has relied on its waterways and each story is a reminder of the crucial role water has played in so many people's lives across the world.
"We already know that life is better by water but these experiences show that there are many more relationships we can have with water - it can save us, protect us, entertain us and be threatened by us. We encourage people to join us in the Docks for a unique experience that will linger in the memory."
Each story lasts around 20 minutes and the boats can take a maximum of four people for the hour-long experience. Tickets cost £10 per boat and can be booked on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/waterways-eventbrite
Entry to the museum is not necessary to enjoy 'Crossings', but there will be 20% off items from the museum café for everyone deciding to visit the museum as part of their trip.
'Crossings' is hosted by the Canal & River Trust at the National Waterways Museum Gloucester. It was created by Luke Jerram in collaboration with BBC Radio 4 producer Julian May. It is supported by Arts Council England and Gloucester City Council and was originally commissioned by Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park.
The National Waterways Museum, Gloucester is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
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