THE ARK, 2013
The Ark was constructed on a barge that travelled along ten miles of the Leeds Liverpool Canal mooring up in communities along its route, coming off the barge to appear in town centres.
The Ark appeared as a wooden house floating on a boat, representing the housing style so abundant in Pennine Lancashire. The sides of the house were intricately cut into shapes referencing Islamic textile pattern, symbolising the influx of South Asian immigrants who came to Lancashire in the 1960s and 70s to work in the textile industry. The Ark merged these patterns with the domestic aesthetic of the terraced street, synonymous with the industrial north. The roof was made up of a living meadow, a symbol of the flower-rich grasslands of the region’s disused quarries, a contrast with the factories and mills it passed on the canal. The project drew on the history of the canal as an industrial pathway that transported local materials and linked communities together, leaving a rich social, cultural and historic legacy through the region.
Housed inside this structure was a film wall showing five commissioned films collectively called The Keepers. The films follow a series of local people journeying through the landscape who have a special connection to the area. The films capture their verbal reflections and their stories illustrate how they relate to the industrial and cultural heritage of the region so inextricably linking them to the surrounding landscape. The figures are interconnected visually with the landscape by converging the individual’s image with the surrounding environment.
Please see below a link to The Keeper’s films:
The Ark project encoded these aspects together, to mediate on the intersect of home, landscape and community to present thoughts on landscape and cultural ecology. The Ark through its journey connected communities and landscapes and existed as a temporary site for exchanging, preserving and celebrating cultural, historical and natural heritage.
The canal was identified as a place that was overlooked and abandoned but its abundant legacy provided the inspiration to consider the canal network as a new platform on which to place an artwork that could literally tour to different communities and broadcast unheard voices. The work brought together voices from divided communities and from second generation South Asian immigrants who had emigrated to become the workforce of then rapidly dying textile industry. This work in part reflects that legacy of lost aspiration and reflects a reconciliation of individuals to their surroundings. The project aimed to give people living and working in the area new ways to think about interpretation of their locality and their ways of lives in relation to the larger community.
The Ark engendered twenty-two outreach events and the publication of free newspaper and reached an audience of one million.
Please click on the link to The Ark film: