Lesley aims to put our canals firmly in the artistic frame
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.