Monday, 2 March 2020

Canalworks



Over the years I've been recording episodes of major repair and renovation on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, including relining of the Llangattock stretch during the winter of 2016/17. 
The work involved dredging, pumping, relining in clay and concrete and sinking in massive polypropylene pipes, activities which can sometimes totally transform the appearance and - perhaps temporarily - the entire ecology of a particular stretch of waterway.
The process of stripping the canal back brings old structures to light, as well as throwing up all manner of artefacts from an earlier era, such as rusty tools and bits of machinery, clay pipes and pottery sherds, as well as more contemporary objects: a mobile phone: a Sabatier knife. These objects often have strong sculptural characteristics and even a ritualistic quality. They seem to breathe history and are powerfully redolent of the people who have lived and worked along the waterways for centuries.
A canal, of course, is mainly about water, and these cycles of rest and upheaval reveal the element in a wealth of different aspects, qualities and behaviours, in differing contexts and subject to differing forms of action and use. There are phases when the canal seems almost natural, an object of timeless bucolic beauty, but in fact it requires almost constant upkeep. 
Canalworks drew on all aspects of my art practice: video, drawing, painting, sculptural elements from found objects. It resulted in several bodies of work which explore both natural processes and human activity over time:
Drawing:- Canalworks Drawings and Theatre 
Video:-     Pumping, Lining, Cement Pouring
Projection and performance:- Canalworks Ghost Jam Canalchemy

Thanks to Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and Colin Griffiths CPCCivils, Civil Engineering Contractors who gave access permissions and support. 

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