Poet Jo Bell announced as Britain's first 'canal laureate'
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Wednesday 19 March 2014
The Canal & River Trust (CRT) is turning to the creative arts to encourage people back to Britain’s 200-year-old waterways. Among those spearheading the cultural drive is Jo Bell, the country’s first canal laureate.
Ms Bell, who has lived on a boat for more than a decade and ran the UK’s National Poetry Day, said: “The canals are one of human civilisations greatest achievements; we look at Rome and the aqueducts. People will look at Britain and the canals in the same way.”
The cultural drive, now in its third year, includes a series of contemporary art commissions such as street murals on bridges, sound installations and a sculpture walk connecting the Olympic Park and the O2.
Ms Bell said. “It seemed like a great opportunity to spread the word about the canals to a population that doesn’t know much about there.”
Her appointment was made by the CRT and the Poetry Society last year. The work of the poet laureate includes writing poetry about the canals and encouraging others to do the same. “There isn’t a huge tradition of contemporary poetry about the subject,” she said.
She has made films about the waterways, attended festivals and is planning a show to be held in dry docks around the UK.
“If it is bringing people to look at the canals, even by just putting poems out there, then my work is done,” she said. “Many people are intimidated by poetry and don’t know much about canals, so this is my mission on earth twice over.”
Ms Bell was an archaeologist for 18 years, before becoming a poet and one of her last jobs was restoring historic canal boats. “I went native and moved onto a canal boat. It’s not an accident that I took poetry more seriously after that,” she said. She does not know what will happen at the end of the year. “Maybe they will throw me in,” she said.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Photographer Matt Lankes' portraits of the cast of Boyhood influenced the film's storyline
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners