Artists launch ambitious cultural programme in Worcester

A major new arts programme, inspired by the region’s canals and rivers, launches today, ahead of a summer of events and installations.

The Ring features internationally acclaimed artists who will be working with local communities to create a series of unexpected and inspiring artworks that explore the heritage, ecology and people along the urban and rural waterways of Worcestershire.

The launch event unveiling the artists will take place today (15 March) at the Diglis House Hotel in Worcester. It will see representations from the artists taking part, music, as well as the premiere of a new book, The Muck and Shovel Brigade, by poet Heather Wastie.

Former Poet Laureate for Worcestershire, Heather was introduced to the canals as a child. She has written a series of poems that sparkle with wit and warmth, inspired by the restoration of the Droitwich Canals, which resulted in the reconnection of the Mid-Worcestershire Ring in 2011, a 21-mile route, reconnecting Droitwich to the River Severn and from there the open sea. It is this circular route that The Ring takes its inspiration from.

Heather’s work examines some of the people who helped to restore the canals and includes the photography archive of restoration pioneer Max Sinclair. The poems and photographs come together to create a unique artwork, conjuring the spirit of the ‘muck and shovel brigade’.

The Ring is part of our Arts on the Waterways collaborative arts programme situated on and inspired by waterways in England and Wales. Between March and September, audiences will be invited to explore The Ring on foot, by boat or bicycle. Activities will take place along the waterways encircling Droitwich and Worcester and includes the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, Droitwich Canals and River Severn.

Tim Eastop, producer of the Arts on the Waterways programme says: “We’re delighted to be launching The Ring and wait in anticipation for these innovative works to spring up in and around the local waterways over the coming months. The project itself is a response to the huge interest in the waterways making up the Mid-Worcestershire Ring, which contains so many compelling and inspiring stories.

“To bring this group of high caliber professional artists and commissioners into one place is really exciting. We want people to consider the canals and rivers as places of cultural experience, as well as an environmental experience. Hopefully The Ring does that and in doing so, encourages many more people to benefit from their local waterways.”

The artists confirmed for The Ring are:

• Rich White, Occupation (Diglis Island Residency), Diglis Island, Worcester (March – Sept 2018)

• Heather Wastie, The Muck and Shovel Brigade, Droitwich Canals. View an e-book of Heather’s poems on-line from 19 March 2018

• Katy Beinart, Saltways, Vines Park, Droitwich and Droitwich Heritage Centre (May – Sept 2018)

• NEON, Weorgoran Pavilion, South Quay, Worcester City Centre (15 – 24 June 2018)

• Dave Crowe, Shire Skies, South Quay, Worcester City Centre (15 – 24 June 2018)

• Emily Speed, Hollowware, Diglis Canal Basin, Worcester (August 2018)

• Lucy McLauchlan, Opening the Floodgates, Oil Dock Basin, Worcester(August – September 2018)

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