Humblyband - a Celtic/Ugandan boat building exchange project

Ruth MacDougall (Environmental artist)                                  

Humblyband  - a Celtic/Ugandan boat building exchange project

For the past year, I have been exploring coracles and am presently building its larger sea faring cousin, the Curach. It is my intention to take this 16ft, 2 man vessel on a pan highland journey, rowing it across water, carrying it across land and sheltering beneath its hull, thus expanding upon the sustainable, lightweight and manoeuvrable qualities that make this structure truly nomadic and universally accessible.

I will be joined by three other artists on the journey, which will take up to 10 days in spring/summer 2011 and be documented by all four of us in various art forms. The resulting work will form an exhibition and publication from my micro press, ELEPHANT TEST. The Curach is at a healthy stage in its construction and along with my coracle, is documented on the blog:

Ugandan Visual Artist, Sheila Nakitende of @rtpunch studio contacted me after reading my Humblyband blog. Inspired by the simplicity, environmental and economical advantages of my project, and motivated by the poor state of the maritime culture in her own country, we began discussions surrounding a possible exchange of ideas and practice.

Consequently, from 11-28 November 2010, I undertook a period of research and development with @rtstamp studio and the fishing community of Lake Victoria, sharing our respective construction techniques and generating newly coalesced boat designs that are specific to the location. @rtpunch was founded in 2007 and works tirelessly in the pursuit of interdisciplinary engagement for artists and the wider economic and social development of their country. The group perceives this boat building exchange not only as an art project but also as an opportunity for creative enterprise that will benefit the entire community,

"It is big!. There is the potential to start a small boat making industry on the Islands. We would not be shy about it like the nation is. We are sure that we could not only make an income but also employ local people and improve their livelihoods. The demand is there."





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