Slow Boat was an innovative three-year programme (2011–2013) involving the Ikon Youth Programme (IYP). They crewed a converted canal boat in order to produce, present and promote their own artwork as well as that of others. The boat was a stage for on-board exhibitions, canal-side performances, screenings, installations, theatrical events, talks and activities in various locations en route. The young people took Slow Boat on numerous day and weekend trips, plus longer voyages away from Birmingham along the many canals that link the city to the rest of the country.
Each year a contemporary artist worked in residence alongside IYP to redesign Slow Boat. In 2011 Dutch artist Marjolijn Dijkman transformed it into a ‘cabinet of curiosity’.
For Irish artist Sarah Browne in 2012 it became a vehicle for the consideration of ‘scarcity’ in modern life. IYP broadcasted Scarcity Radio in the summer during a five week trip to London, in collaboration with Propeller, Chisenhale Gallery’s youth programme.
For 2013 we worked with Navin Rawanchaikul. Inspired by his Thai and Indian heritage he planned our most colourful journey to date, organised in collaboration with sampad, Birmingham’s development agency for South Asian arts. Slow Boat hosted Navinland, a floating campaign to find other ‘Navins’, namesakes of the artist, with many celebratory events on the canals of the Central Shires and East Midland waterways.