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All Aboard The Eco Showboat

Part floating arts studio, part science lab, the recently-launched Eco Showboat project boasts action and ambition by the bucket-load.

With the aim of connecting communities along Ireland’s waterways to ignite urgent climate action and build a shared, zero-carbon future; the Eco Showboat project website and an exhibition of the vessel’s design drawings were launched in August on the banks of the River Nore, Kilkenny.

Full Steam Ahead

Ready to take to our inland waterways from 2022, this one-of-a-kind ecological floating arts lab is being developed by artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly of the School of Looking. Having had its heyday in 1929, the impressive 48-metre-long heritage barge will be transformed into a zero-carbon vessel suitable for Eco Showboat expeditions across Ireland’s beautiful lakes, rivers and canals – sparking a countrywide artistic response to climate change along the way.

The Eco Showboat manifesto says,“the 48m, historic barge, built in 1929, will be transformed into an carbon-neutral vessel through a countrywide effort – a symbol of our growth towards a green future – undertaking a two-year voyage across the country on the inland waterways and working with artists, scientists and communities to harness our collective imagination and spark climate action” .

An Adaptable Platform

Set to be an adaptable platform, the Eco Showboat is expected to respond to its various, site-specific contexts. Different audiences, arts projects, orientations and weather will be facilitated at every stop on its journey.

Adaptability has become central to the design of the boat as a platform, especially in relation to the unpredictable evolution of the Covid-19 crisis, which has pushed us to keep our public activities outside.

Just some of the vessel’s functions as it makes its journey will be a stage, an outdoor cinema, a covered outdoor venue and a studio lab.

With five projects involved in the Eco Showboat initiative, participants will collaborate with the creative, scientific and wider communities they meet en route, to awaken a better understanding of the beauty, possibilities and problems of fresh water. 

Source: Creative Ireland

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