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Water Works

  • By: Ps2
  • Location: Various
  • When: Spring – Summer 2024
  • Profile: Mover & Maker

PS²’s WATER WORKS project shifts our attention towards the River Lagan, the harbour and other water systems in Belfast. WATER WORKS spearheads a transformative journey, rediscovering our pre-industrial, vernacular boatbuilding histories, urban and maritime developments and future planning, and use of one of our greatest assets: the waterways in and around our city.

With a playful focus on the rivers that played such an important part in our city’s heritage and to reimagine possibilities for future uses, our ambition is to build 10,000 boats for and with the people of Belfast - from life-size skiffs to milk-bottle rafts. Alongside a programme of 90 boatbuilding workshops for all ages, abilities and backgrounds, the project also invites engagement through a series of commissioned performances, talks, and activities from artists, activists and academics. 

Large scale boat commissions are led by artist-boatbuilders, Niamh Scullion and Paddy Bloomer. Niamh, as a member of Lagan Currachs, will lead a group of over 70 community participants who have expressed interest in building a skiff (a wooden boat crewed by a team of five people) which will be gifted to the people of Belfast as a legacy of the project. Paddy will continue his tradition of innovating vessels which are constructed from recycled materials and featuring sustainable forms of power. Occupying a prominent site next to Titanic Belfast, local people and tourists alike can observe this construction taking place. 

WATER WORKS culminates in a spectacular boat corso—a vibrant parade showcasing the collective efforts of the community and the approaches of artists, boatbuilders and boating clubs based in the city. 

Beyond spectacle, the project weaves in meaningful dialogue on themes including rising sea levels, Belfast City Council’s climate emergency, flood alleviation measures, environmental politics and behavioural change that outlines achievable contributions that we can all - individual and organisational - make. Practical programme commitments include river and pond clean-up operations and tree planting to replace stocks used in boatbuilding. 

Together, we can envisage a future where our river is rejuvenated, celebrated and used by all its residents, and where community engagement and creative expression take centre stage.

Find out more about the project at - (Link opens in new window)

This project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players and is part of Our Future Heritage portfolio of projects which help us all enjoy and understand Belfast's heritage.

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