Black Country Voyages

Project to link young people with Black Country arts, heritage and cultural organisations.


Juneau Projects, Data Ritual, 2013, photo by Anna Arca,
Courtesy the artist and Ikon

The Aaron Manby – a converted narrow boat measuring 72 feet in length – will navigate the Black Country’s industrial canal routes visiting Cradley Heath, Tipton, Brownhills, Smethwick, Oldbury, Langley Green, Netherton, Brierley Hill and Stourbridge this summer, as part of Ikon’s Black Country Voyages (2014-17).

Black Country Voyages is an art project for local young people, aged 15-19 years old, involving members of the Ikon Youth Programme (IYP). The project takes place on board a canal boat generously leased from Sandwell Council.

Midlands artists Juneau Projects are leading Black Country Voyages in 2014, and will curate a programme of events, performances and exhibitions, related to and inspired by the heritage of the Black Country, and nature’s interaction with society. This interactive project will see Juneau Projects travel along local canals with the IYP, engaging local audiences through workshops, live performances and exhibitions. Throughout the journey they will transform the interior and exterior of the boat into a hand-painted archive of people’s ideas of the natural world.

Black Country Voyages is in partnership with many local arts, heritage and educational organisations including the Cradley Heath Collective, RSA Academy Tipton, Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, Smethwick Galton Valley Centre, Smethwick Heritage Centre, The Red House Glass Cone and Glass House College in Stourbridge and Sandwell Community Libraries. Black Country Voyages is organised in collaboration with the Canal & River Trust.

Ikon was awarded funding by Arts Council England to bring Black Country Voyages to fruition as part of Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme, which supports arts venues to tour their work for the enjoyment of many more people.

To celebrate Black Country Day on 14 July, Ikon launches by Birmingham designers Substrakt.