Scotland’s first-ever canal artist-in-residence has captured the spectacular sights of the nation’s inland waterways on canvas and is inviting the public to go ‘gongoozling’ as the first exhibition of her work opens on May 6th at the Park Gallery in Falkirk.
Entitled ‘Gongoozler’ – a term for someone who takes joy from watching the world, and one or two boats, pass by on canals – the exhibition marks the culmination of a 15-month residency that saw artist Lesley Banks travel the Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan Canals creating paintings that celebrate the environments and stories of Scotland’s 250-year-old waterways. The exhibition will run until June 25th.
The residency, funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland Open Project Funding and supported by Falkirk Community Trust and Scottish Canals, has resulted in the creation of more than 40 paintings of the nation’s canals, covering everything from The Falkirk Wheel to Neptune’s Staircase, The Kelpies, and even the few remaining sections of the Monkland Canal.
Richard Millar, Director of Infrastructure at Scottish Canals, said: “From Neptune’s Staircase to The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies, Scotland’s canals have been associated with innovative art and engineering for more than 200 years. Lesley’s project has helped celebrate that rich heritage and the vital role the waterways play in the communities that line their banks by committing their iconic sights and stories to canvas – many for the first time.
“We’re delighted with the results of the residency and hope that seeing the incredible scenery of Scotland’s canals during the exhibition will encourage even more to people to explore the waterways by boot, boat and bike and experience them in person.”
Once bustling transport arteries that stoked the fires of the industrial revolution, today the character of Scotland’s canals is very different, with the waterways home to cyclists and social enterprises rather than coal scows and Clydesdale Horses. Passing through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes, rural villages and the bustling cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, the 250-year-old waterways remain vital venues for business, leisure and tourism that attract more than 22 million visits a year.
Maureen Campbell, Chief Executive of Falkirk Community Trust, said: “We are delighted to have supported Lesley in the development of the exhibition. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Callendar House to see the wonderful interpretation of key heritage assets. We are particularly pleased to see Falkirk presented in a number of the works.”
Claire Byers, Interim Director, Arts & Engagement at Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have supported this residency which celebrates the rich resource of Scotland’s canals and what they mean to the communities they connect. Lesley’s art captures the spirit and stories of the evocative pace of life demanded by these slow-moving arteries – and her exhibition will rekindle the enjoyment of all those that have contributed as well as sparking the imagination of new audiences for her work and the canals themselves.”
The Gongoozler exhibition will take place from Saturday May 6th until Sunday 25th June at the Park Gallery at Callendar House, Callendar Park, Falkirk. More information is available at www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/venues/park-gallery