Canal Poetry Route

The Project

For almost 300 years Bath’s beautiful canal has drifted quietly on, collecting stories. The experience of floating down the water, slowly rising and falling with the levels of the city whilst fully immersed in the historic landscape, is a thought-provoking and contemplative experience. Now imagine if, while waiting for the locks to empty and fill, there was something there to engage you, to pass the time, and to offer a glimpse of the powerful history, stories, and ideas the canal holds

The canal poetry route was a proposal for the installation of six “transforming” poems within each of Bath’s six locks. Each poem is designed to be hidden under the upper waterline of the lock until it’s emptied. The poem is then revealed line by line as the lock slowly empties, and with each additional line the poem takes on new meaning.

In September 2018, I ran a pilot for the full route, with the installation of one poem within Bath Top Lock (13). The poem was pressure-washed through a stencil onto the wall of the lock chamber – a process that is both natural and environmentally friendly, lifting away a layer of dirt to leave an imprint of the letters on the brick.

I fundraised the cost of the stencils with the help of an amazing community of supporters and was able to carry out the project pilot thanks to the generous help of the Canal and River Trust volunteer team. It even made the local news!

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