Ikon takes the Slow Boat to London

This July, Ikon’s floating exhibition space Slow Boat makes its longest journey to date, travelling from Birmingham to London’s Chisenhale Gallery along the Grand Union Canal.

Ikon's floating exhibition space Slow Boat makes the 5 week journey to London

Ikon’s floating exhibition space Slow Boat makes the 5 week journey to London

During the five week return trip to London, Slow Boat will deliver a programme of talks, artist-led workshops, film screenings and radio broadcasts, with stop-offs at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, Hatton Locks in Warwickshire and Milton Keynes. The boat will be crewed by young people from the Ikon and Chisenhale Gallery’s youth programmes, plus artists Benedict Drew and Sam Belinfante.

Slow Boat leaves Birmingham on Saturday 21 July, arriving at Chisenhale Gallery in East London on Friday 3 August, just a few miles from the Olympic Park where the London 2012 Games will be in their second week. Travelling at three and a half miles an hour, Slow Boat’s sedate pace offers a measured contrast to the frenzy of activity surrounding the Olympic and Paralymic Games. Whilst at Chisenhale Gallery, the boat will be open to the local community with a programme of free workshops, film screenings, debates and an exhibition.

Slow Boat is a three-year project set up to explore an in-depth, sustained way of working with young people aged between 15 and 19 years. The project involves the Ikon Youth Programme (IYP), a group of Birmingham-based young people, and a converted canal boat that measures 72 feet in length.  For this journey Ikon is working in partnership with Propeller, the youth programme of Chisenhale Gallery.

Kate Self, Ikon Learning Coordinator: “Slow Boat gives the opportunity for our young people to take the lead and move beyond their own territories: Ikon’s Youth Programme are able to experience London during this exciting time and Propeller, Chisenhale’s youth programme, can get out of town and into the countryside. This project champions slowness and in-depth working with a changing youth population over its three-year duration.”

Tony Hales, Chair, Canal & River Trust, said:  “The Canal & River Trust is working with Arts Council England to provide funding for exciting waterways arts projects that reach out to new audiences. Slow Boat brings together the fantastic youth programmes of Ikon and Chisenhale Gallery with two excellent artists as they explore the canals between Birmingham and London. I’m looking forward to seeing how the waterways inspire these young people and artists as they pass sedately through the changing landscapes and experience our industrial heritage first hand.”

Vivienne Bennett, Director of Visual Arts, Arts Council England, said: “Slow Boat is a fascinating example of how taking art out of the gallery and young people out of the classroom, and putting them together in an unusual setting, at a gentle pace, can have fantastic results. The project is firing young people’s artistic imaginations and introducing them to the engineering marvel and natural beauty of our waterways.

“This exciting partnership with Ikon, Chisenhale Gallery and the Canal & River Trust is just one of the ways in which the Arts Council is working to achieve its goal of providing every child and young person in England with the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.”

Slow Boat will follow the Grand Union Canal along its 130 mile route to London. Constructed in the 18th century, this waterway was once a thriving industrial artery for the transportation of raw materials such as coal and steel from Birmingham to London. Slow Boat will also travel along the Regent’s Canal, linking Grand Union to the Thames at Limehouse. This stretch marks its 200 year anniversary in 2012.

Slow Boat to London dates:

Summer Launch
Saturday 21 July, 12-2pm
Canalside, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2JF
See www.ikon-gallery.co.uk for more details

Weekend at artworks, Milton Keynes
Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 July
Parklands, Great Linford, Milton Keynes, MK14 5DZ

London Launch
Saturday 4 August, 4-7pm
Chisenhale Gallery, 64 Chisenhale Road, London E3 5QZ

Stoke Bruerne Pirate Weekend
Saturday 18 August, 12-4pm
Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne, Nr Towcaster, Northants NN12 7SE

Slow Boat stop-offs include:
Tyseley, Kingswood, Royal Leamington Spa, Hatton, Warwick, Bugbrooke, Stoke Bruerne, Linslade, Berkhamstead, Rickmansworth, Napton Junction, Buckby Wharf, Gaton Junction, Yardley Wharf, Milton Keynes, Fenny Stratford, Marsworth, Hemel Hempstead, Bull’s Bridge and Limehouse.

Check http://ikonslowboat.com/2012/ for updates along the journey.