Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Soap Box...

Well this post was going to start in a completely different way, it was going to be...

Birmingham locks in desperate need of attention...

"We've passed a few dodgy locks, battered wharfs and sad looking water points over the past few months but this is getting ridiculous! But all of a sudden the overgrown lock starts to swell and grow before I realise its that stupid floating forest thing that's been, well floating around Birmingham. More like wimpy wood than floating forest."

But I thought if I was going to take the pi micky from someone's artwork then I should at least find out who did it to give a little credit (name and shame them!)

It didn't take me long to find a lot more dissatisfied comments than satisfied ones.

So what exactly is it? Artist Beth Derbyshire got a rusty old work barge and filled to the brim with an assortment of trees. Its being pushed by a small, smelly old diesel tug. OK so nothing offensive, nothing damaging and probably not much worse than a turner prise being awarded to an unmade bed. It has a couple of extras that look like it was all a bit last minute. You can almost imagine the conversion once it was filled...

"Hm bit shit isn't it, not very arty"
"I've got an idea, bung some speakers in and do a quick sound track on a loop!"

"Yeah nice one, a loop of sounds of the forest, yeah blending into diggers and dozers, an audio of deforestation! Cool!"

"Er no actually I was thinking interviews and thoughts from the local Afghan community with soldiers and family and stuff will be better"

Ooookay... and that's relevant how exactly. Good idea if the next stage is to ditch the trees and change it to a war torn landscape as a very vivid reminder and memorial to those who have and are still making the ultimate sacrifice. But as Terry Wogan would have said, 'is it me?' And to justify it further with another irrelevance "it looks a bit like the forest from Macbeth"

I am a peace not war kinda bloke, happy to avoid confrontation and conflict at any opportunity. Let the arty farty brigade move unmade beds into studios and fill barges with trees, I'm not paying for it, am I?


Its a joint 'venture' between the arts council Birmingham uni and CaRT (formerly British Waterways) the people who I pay my licence fee to and the people who should be out dredging the canals and repairing the towpaths! Surprisingly the arts council stumped up only 18% of the costs.

In my blog of a few months ago at hearts hill Wharf I had said that this historic site was in a worse state of repair than last year when we went through on our hire boat sarah louise. With leaking taps and crumbling wharfs this boatyard and surrounding workshops could be great. Of course it would take a lot more money than a small share of the costs of filling a barge with soil and trees wouldn't it and something like an education centre would need constant funding. How about a working boatyard with units rented out to local astisans then.

So how long does it take to fill a barge with mud and trees, record some audio and start pushing it around the canals? I recon me and Deb could get it sorted in a couple of weeks, maybe a bit more if you visit forestry commission sites to try and wangle a hundred free tree saplings (as it happens Walsall Council donated the trees so £0 cost there then!). So the costs were at least quite low, right?

WRONG!.... Beth Derbyshire TOOK 4 YEARS, AND £50,000 to see her woods in a skip vision to come true.

From BBC website -

'The £50,000 art work, called The Rootless Forest, features trees that are planted onboard a converted canal boat.' - how can you convert an empty shell to an empty shell?

'She said: "The project took four years in development and I am relieved and delighted to see it finished. I can't quite believe it and I don't know what to do with myself." - knock on doors and tell old folk they need a new roof or driveway, I feel I've been comprehensively mugged!

'About £9,000 was funded by the Arts Council, the remaining costs were met by supporting organisations such as The Canal & River Trust and Birmingham City University.' - suckers!

Long sigh....Step down from soap box...exit stage left.

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