Salt sculpture to travel by boat to Droitwich

A SCULPTURE inspired by the town of Droitwich’s salt history will travel by boat to the town in a celebration of their unique place in history.

Artist Katy Beinart is set to make an historic boat trip on the waterways leading to the salt centre of England this May, to celebrate the salt trade in Worcestershire that dates back more than 2000 years.

Her innovative art work, entitled Saltways, takes inspiration from the town of Droitwich’s heyday as an international centre for salt production, when local waterways were used to export hugely valuable salt around the world.

Salt works, photo courtesy Paul Jones LRPS

Katy will travel on Scorpio, a heritage working boat, from Gloucester Docks to Droitwich from May 4-6, carrying a sculpture based on the town’s old salt works factories. The pavilion structure will then be filled with salt from around the world, including from Bolivia, Turkey and South Africa, among others, as well as that which is locally produced at Churchfield Saltworks.

The boat will arrive at St Richard’s Festival, Droitwich, on May 6. Visitors can watch the boat’s arrival in Vine’s Park at 11am as its salt cargo is unloaded and poured into the salt pavilion, along with locally produced salt, in a special ceremony at 12noon attended by the Mayor of Droitwich. There is a chance to take part in family salt and art workshops with local artists.

“Saltways both celebrates the past and asks what the future of salt will be in Droitwich. The sculpture contains the past of Droitwich in its form but also the future as an important part of a network of contemporary salt manufacturers. In this way Saltways seeks to present a future vision of the town which inspires and ignites other forms of exchange, and value,” Katy said.

Droitwich was founded on its natural salt brines and, at its peak, exported 120,000 tonnes a year. Katy has been inspired by the last “Wych Barge” to leave Droitwich in 1916, a salt cargo boat designed to navigate canals and open sea.

The work is part of The Ring, an arts programme and cultural first for Worcestershire that celebrates the region’s canals and rivers. The project, run by the Canal & River Trust – the charity that cares for the nation’s waterways – will see a series of new commissions created by local and internationally celebrated artists in response to the 21 miles of waterways encircling Droitwich and Worcester, namely the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the Droitwich Canals and the River Severn.

Katy’s salt pavilion will be on display at the Salt Museum in Droitwich from May until September before departing on board a canal boat as part of Salt Fest on September 8.

Tim Eastop, executive producer of the Canal & River Trust’s Arts on the Waterways programme says: “Saltways promises to be a poignant and exciting spectacle recreating a waterway route that was travelled for thousands of years. The artwork will remind people that waterways are historic places that inspire creative insights about their past, as well as offering intriguing glimpses into their future as places of new culture and wellbeing. Katy’s work promises to bring to life the importance of the community’s past stewardship of salt and their contribution to the world.”

Cathy Mager, artistic director of The Ring, adds: “We are absolutely delighted to see the Salt Pavilion and its associated events arrive in Droitwich after over a year of exceptional research by the artist. The route of The Ring holds many hidden histories and Saltways shines a light on the important story of the town’s international salt trade and how this heritage continues to inspire local salt entrepreneurs”

On July 14, the Droitwich Spa Heritage & Information Centre will hold Artist’s Talk as Katy talks about the Saltways project, as part of the arts festival. Visitors can join in the family activities on the day.

On September 8 there will be a Boat Farewell at the Salt Festival in Droitwich. Enjoy the carnival atmosphere of Droitwich Salt Festival with bands and craft stalls in Vine’s Park as the salt pavilion embarks on its farewell journey

The Ring is a part of the Canal & River Trust’s Arts on the Waterways programme and is funded by Arts Council England, Canal & River Trust together with support from local authorities, trusts and foundations. For full details please visit: www.theringart.org.uk 

For details about the Canal & River Trust’s Arts on the Waterways programme visit: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/waterway-arts

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