Looping the Loop with Ikon’s Slow Boat

Ikon Gallery’s Slow Boat has recently undergone a transformation as it embarks on its next three year programme, Looping the Loop.

Featuring a new design by Lamorna Conlon (a member of Ikon Youth Programme), Ikon’s Slow Boat boasts a bold and striking exterior which reflects the colours used by the gallery’s founding artists.

Slow Boat, crewed by members of the Ikon Youth Programme (IYP) alongside a selection of artists, will navigate the Birmingham and Sandwell canals from Icknield Port Loop to the Smethwick Pumping House, engaging local residents in workshops, performances and screenings.

For the remainder of 2017, IYP will collaborate with Flatpack to take Slow Boat to different arts, heritage and community festivals, including Birmingham Heritage Week (9 September), Tipton Canal and Community Festival (16 September), Birmingham Weekender (24 September) and Birmingham Canal Navigations Society Rally 4 November).

Providing a distinctive social space, Slow Boat’s residency programme is a unique opportunity for artists to explore ways of working with new audiences. Throughout August, the Sidney Nolan Trust collaborated with local youth groups and artists Dan ‘Newso’ Lickiss and Free Radical to produce spray painted and word portraits. Slow Boat will then be an open studio for James Lomax researching and responding to the manufacturing history of Icknield Port Loop (24 August – 4 October) and former Ladywood resident and artist Mahtab Hussain to examine high rise tower life through photography and films (16 – 29 October). In spring 2018, Japanese artist Rie Nakajima will perform on Slow Boat as it moves between her exhibition at Ikon Gallery and Max Eastley’s sound installation at Perrott’s Folly.

Streamed across social media, Slow Boat’s artist residencies will be interspersed with evenings of music, dining and talks, all whilst looping the local ports. Details of the events will be advertised on Ikon’s website.

Ian Hyde, Ikon’s Deputy Director said: ‘we are thrilled with Slow Boat’s new look and know that it will provide a real focal point for the Looping the Loop project.  As an educational charity encouraging engagement in contemporary arts, the boat and the project will allow us to reach new audiences and take Ikon’s ethos and work to communities along the local canal network.’

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