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Ikon Slow Boat

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For ten years Ikon Youth Programme (IYP) has navigated Slow Boat around the waterways of the West Midlands and beyond. A converted narrow boat, Slow Boat is a unique floating space for IYP, local communities and artists to make and experience art in a stimulating and creative environment.

Ikon is delighted to announce the support of Freelands Foundation in developing Ikon Youth Programme (IYP). During 2021-2024, we will expand the alternative curriculum offered by IYP, raising fundamental questions concerning the definition and relevance of art against a backdrop of societal change.

In the first year, IYP will collaborate with creative thinkers and makers to reimagine Slow Boat as a local art school – where an Arts and Crafts philosophy is adopted to overcome a sense of alienation – presenting a radical proposition in our Covid-19 era. Members will be introduced to various histories, materials and processes, including painting, sculpting, printmaking, ceramics and glassblowing. Just as local art schools of the 19th & 20th Century provided formative educational experiences for artists, designers, educators and activists, we envisage Slow Boat playing this role for many more young people. 

Read more here.

History of Slow Boat

Looping the Loop (2017–2019)  took place between the canal and community spaces in Birmingham’s Ladywood district. During this time Slow Boat was the vehicle for a socially responsive programme, with a particular focus on encouraging greater understanding of the experiences of refugees and new arrivals to the city through artists’ residencies.

Resident artists: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham, Max Eastley, Mahtab Hussain, idle women, Dion Kitson, Matthew Krishanu, James Lomax, Claudia Losi, Maral Mamaghanizadeh, Mothership Projects, O Yama O, Ming de Nasty, Kateřina Šedá, Jane Thakoordin, Justin Wiggan, Kaye Winwood (Slow Boat Producer).

Black Country Voyages (2014–2017) saw Slow Boat navigate the West Midlands’ canal network with a focus on the Black Country. It became a space for stories of displacement and migration, a floating laboratory of herbal concoctions and an archive of people’s ideas about the natural world.

Resident artists: Mahtab Hussain, Juneau Projects, Jacques Nimki.

Slow Boat (2011–2013) was created in response to the Ikon Youth Programme’s request for ‘a space of their own’ and they used it to produce, present and promote their work. IYP also worked with other artists to turn Slow Boat into a ‘cabinet of curiosity’, a radio station and a floating campaign considering notions of identity, taking journeys around the Midlands and to London and back.

Resident artists: Yto Barrada, Sam Belinfante, Sarah Browne, Clayground Collective, Companis, Marjolijn Dijkman, Benedict Drew, Propeller, Queen & Crawford, Navin Rawanchaikul.

Ikon’s Slow Boat programme takes place onboard the Aaron Manby, a canal boat generously leased from Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.