Les­ley aims to put our canals firmly in the artis­tic frame

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

SCOT­LAND’S first canal artist-in-res­i­dence is set to cap­ture the beauty of the na­tion’s water­ways on can­vas – and the pub­lic’s sto­ries and mem­o­ries of them – as a 15-month project gets un­der way.

En­ti­tled ‘Gon­goo­zler’ – a term for some­one who takes joy from watch­ing the world, and one or two boats, pass by on canals – the res­i­dency will see artist Les­ley Banks travel the coun­try’s canals, in­clud­ing the Cale­do­nian and Cri­nan, cre­at­ing paint­ings that cel­e­brate the en­vi­ron­ments and sto­ries of Scot­land’s 250-year- old water­ways.

The project will see Les­ley show­case her work at var­i­ous venues around Scot­land. As part of the project, Les­ley is ap­peal­ing to peo­ple to channel their in­ner gon­goo­zler to share their sto­ries and mem­o­ries of Scot­land’s canals and what they mean to them.

Whether it’s tales of fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the gods on the Cale­do­nian Canal’s iconic Nep­tune’s Stair­case, soar­ing through the sky on the Falkirk Wheel, watch­ing Clyde puffers chug along or rem­i­nis­cences of canals’ glory days, gon­goo­zlers are en­cour­aged to share their ex­pe­ri­ences, sto­ries and mem­o­ries by email­ing gon­goo­zler16@ gmai l . com. The sto­ries will be used to in­form and ac­com­pany Les­ley’s work.

Les­ley said: ‘ I’m very ex­cited to be Scot­tish Canals’ first artist-in­res­i­dence. From the wa­ter to the banks and be­yond, Scot­land’s canals are in­cred­i­ble en­vi­ron­ments with more than two cen­turies of sto­ries to tell and I can’t wait to cap­ture some of them as part of the project.

‘Us­ing the tow­paths as a stu­dio, I’m in the process of walk­ing the 137 miles of the Scot­tish canals net­work. That ex­pe­ri­ence, and the sto­ries sub­mit­ted by the pub­lic, will al­low me to cre­ate five un­fold­ing se­quen­tial vis­ual jour­neys de­pict­ing the unique char­ac­ter of each canal.’

Once bustling trans­port ar­ter­ies that stoked the fires of the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, to­day the char­ac­ter of Scot­land’s canals is very dif­fer­ent, with the water­ways home to cy­clists and so­cial en­ter­prises rather than coal scows and Cly­des­dale horses.

Pass­ing through some of Scot­land’s most beau­ti­ful land­scapes, ru­ral vil­lages and bustling cities, the wa­ter ways re­main vi­tal venues for busi­ness, leisure and tourism that at­tract more than 22 mil­lion vis­its a year.

Les­ley Banks stands on top of the Falkirk Wheel with her paint­ing of the world’s only ro­tat­ing boat lift.

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