Swan Pedalo Broadcasts

Friday 5th and Saturday 6th of August artists Dave Lynch and John O’Shea are broadcasting live online and in Barrow Park at Full of Noises Festival 2011 at Barrow in Furness.

The beautiful Open Source Swan Pedalo – “Grace” – has been modified through the addition of a special broadcasting unit and we have a whole schedule of shows running live between 1pm and 5pm each day.

Through the wonders of the world wide web you can listen online – live!

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Schedule for two days as follows:

Friday 5th

1pm: Station View Songs

2pm: Mayor of Barrow

2.30pm: Underwater Sound Intervention

3pm – 5pm – FON Festival artists on air!

Saturday 6th

1pm: Introduction by Dave Lych and John O’Shea

1.15pm: Hidden Gems of the Barrow Art Scene (presented by councilor Helen Wall and Bob Dickinson from Radio 4)

2pm: Optimistic Sound Intervention

2.30pm: Antye – poetry

3pm: Barrow Sounds – opens with David on laptop

3.30pm:  Ryoko Akama

4pm: Simon Jones

4.20pm: Fern of Octopus

4.40pm: Slim Pro 6 and the Bobettes

5.30pm: Performance by Tetsuo Kogawa


We were on Radio Cumbria this morning! Find us and listen again!

We are still looking for artists and performers from Barrow to get involved tomorrow – we have empty slots between 3 and 5pm – if you are interested in getting involved add a comment on this page with a contact email or send a message via twitter @swanpedalo.

To give a flavour of what is possible here is a video of some fine Leeds Owls who came out to play on the Open Source Swan Pedalo’s visit to Leeds.

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Susan White

Amazingly, Susan White’s name alone wasn’t the most incredible swan related aspect of meeting this lovely woman on a rainy sunday in a small wood in north Leeds.

Whilst stood at the corner of a lake watching a family of swans groom themselves with the signets slowly picking up technique from their parents, Susan briskly walks up.  At once the male swan makes the trademark hiss, which for me recoils the urban myths of people getting arms broken trying to pet swans which are protecting their young.  I notice a dog out of the corner of my eye and put one and one together, but the swan continues to approach Susan hissing and rearing its tail feathers.

“Look, just wait” says Susan with loving patience, as she unwraps a full wholemeal loaf.  By this point the Swan is a mere two foot away from me and they are big big birds, I think this myth to be true and slowly back off feeling a little uneasy that this lady seems unaware.

Susan blissfully begins feeding the Swans by hand, just like you would a dog at the table, at this point i notice Susan’s dog a comfortable 10m away up the embankment with a look like experience has taught him better.

The whole family surround her and she calmly tells us of her daily routine of feeding, how she has watched the family come together and grow.  We hear of a previous batch of signets that weren’t so lucky and what she and others have done to help raise these new ones.  I account the tameness of these birds to the local community interaction and wonder if it will have negative effect, but as Susan leaves, the Swans return to the bank and don’t return for any other passer by with bread.  I feel safe in the knowledge that Swans work on a basis of trust, building rapport and mutual respect.  Does this have anything to do with the wide multi-cultural mythology built around the Swan? Is it just the regality and beauty of the bird? Or is it that people who have the gift of fearless animal communication just don’t make good news stories?


For a while now I have been looking to purchase some swan feathers for the society of swandeliers, feather in your cap and all but it never really felt right to buy these things. I see strewn all around the are some perfect and imperfect fresh off the bird, feathers!   Score !

I aim to go back to film Susan, collect more feathers for the society and take some pictures for her and the rest of the community who have helped raise these beautiful big birds. More to come as it happens with Susan White and if there are any questions for when I meet her then please add them here or on the comments section.




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Show and Tell at Future Everything

Our Open Source Swan Pedalo is one among 10 projects being presented at Future Everything’s “Show and Tell for Sendai” event, which is taking place at Cornerhouse in Manchester on the 14th of May.

Some info regarding the rest of the line-up is copied here:

Presenters include:

Louise Gardner and Angela Roche (Design by Day); Elliot Woods (Kimchi and Chips); Dave Griffiths (artists, Babel Fiche); John O’Shea (artist, Swan Pedalo), Eddy Rhead (Manchester Modernist Society);  Brendan Dawes (Magnetic North); Jon Grant (Cahoona); Hwa Young Jung (artist & co founder madlab) plus a DVD presentation from WOW agency in Sendai.

It will be great to share our work so far, in getting the Swan afloat, with a new audience – and to meet some very interesting practitioners from across the North West.

Do Open Source Swans Dream of Fibreglass Sheep?

Lots of interesting new things since Swan number one made a nest next to Liverpool Albert Dock – here’s a list of a few:

  • @wimpyking came down and did an interview – straight from the Swans beak!

  • And the loads of people uploaded their photos and videos during our first week where we had a special codeword each day to ride the white swan for free:

(above) photo by @clairelsutton

(Thanks also for twitpics/yfrogs/videos from: @alannolan, @BabaOnos, @p3dro, @onthepennines, @artinliverpool, @minapop & anyone I may have missed.)

‘Fire Moving Slowly’ at Dukes Dock.

On Saturday the 16th of April the Swan Pedalo was set free on Dukes Dock.
We simply asked that he/she/it would let some musicians ride on her back for a few hours.
She carried my band, Elfin Spurs (shown here), Alex Mountaineer & Greedy Jesus amongst others.

This song is called ‘Fire moving slowly’ featuring Sofie Roberts on vocals & Chiz Turnross on Guitar, (I’m on drums).

We had a bit of a technical hitch with Sofies vocals so we had to overdub them, but you get used to that after a while, I like to think it’s a bit Top of the Pops.

More videos will follow.

This was what we did with a turn up and play approach to using the Swan as a platform to make music, what could be done with a bit more preparation?

I’d like to recreate that Pdiddy video in which he rides a jet ski..

Videography by Arek Chrusciel, Sam Meech & John O’Shea, edited by Neil Winterburn.


Saturday 16th of April 2011 marks the Alpha launch of the Open Source Swan Pedalo – and where better that the “gateway to the world” – Liverpool’s Albert Dock!

From Monday 18th of April until Monday 2nd of May we hope that the Swan will be open for the general public – come down and have a go!

We will be testing the Swan’s water-worthy-ness over this weekend and we hope to film a few of Liverpool’s finest musicians making some music onboard!

There were initial concerns that that the launch would faulter when security officials arrived on the scene – but after some negotiation were allowed to lower the Swan down the slope and into the water.  We each had a go until we had relayed our Swan all the way around the Albert Dock to its mooring location next to the big wheel and outside of the Echo Arena.  It is an amazingly smooth ride – and quite fast!

As is tradition, we splashed the Swan with champagne and said a few words before doing a lap of honour.  Present for this momentous occasion were Sam, Ruth, Mel, Markus, Neringa, Neil, John and our wonderful host Simon.

One thing we did not do however, was choose a name for our Swan – perhaps this is bad luck – but we hope that the people of Liverpool will choose a name in good time ;-)

Testing the Water!

Finally – we dreamt that this day would come – our opportunity has arrived to get our Open Source Swan Pedalo out onto the water!

This great news is in no small part thanks to the efforts of Simon of www.wowballs.co.uk who got in touch with us right at the beginning to offer a mutually beneficial chance for the swan to get its feet wet.  If all goes to plan then the Open Source Swan Pedalo will be on the water for testing near the Albert Dock during Saturday and Sunday this weekend and then it will be available to the fee-paying public of Liverpool as an enjoyable and leisurely resource for two weeks after that (which includes the Royal Wedding day!)

The basic schedule is as follows:

(tonight) Friday evening 6.30pm: meeting with Simon at basecamp (Andy’s workshop) to inspect the Swan for any damage etc. and discuss the day and arrangements – then off for a sneaky pint at Kavanaghs.  If anyone wants to come along and needs a lift I can pick you up – all welcome.

Saturday morning 9am: Swan is being collected by a Man with Van (who was sourced via twitter!) and driven down to the Albert Dock – this is an all hands on deck operation.  Again – I can pick people up if need be.  Ideally we will have 6 people to lift the swan onto (and off of) the boxvan.  It would be good also if we could video this voyage.

(Our Swan will be entering the water near to where the Duckmarine goes.)

Saturday afternoon:
Sam is co-ordinating this – but the intention is that various musicians will be doing short acoustic renditions of their own songs from the Swan and we hope to share this within Liverpool Music Unconference as an alternative model for music distribution.

Sunday: (possibility for more testing – or perhaps free rides for the art-going public?)

Then: 2 weeks of Open Source Swan Pedalo operational on Albert Dock as leisure vessel for public to enjoy.

  • The Open Source Swan Pedalo will remain on the water until the end beginning of May operating as part of Simons Wowball venture – there will be a charge of £5 for 10 minutes for an adult + their children (which is pretty fair considering this is the same fee as for a single child in the wow balls)
  • Simon is only looking to recoup his costs and any surplus will go back into Swan funds for the benefit of future projects

During the 2 weeks that the Swan is operational on the water it would be desirable if people could sign up to volunteer for one half day to be on hand and support Simon’s lifeguards in operating the Swan.  This is not essential but it will mean that we have a team of people with documented experience of working with the swan – we might even do some special badges!
Fri 29th April: the Swan will be on the water for the Royal Wedding!  Any ideas how to mark this? Portraits? Bunting? A battered swan banquet?

Tues May 3rd: Open Source Swan Pedalo will leave the water

So -

Any questions?  Any suggestions?


PS: I decided against posting this news yesterday since the 14th of April is the anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.

To the owners of the swan pedalo…

Dear Swan Pedalo people,

My names’s Ben, im planning an event to raise money for four different charities to take place in the summer of 2012, and my 3 friends and I specifically need a 4-man swan pedalo to complete the mission we’ve decided to undertake.  We don’t have access to thousands with which to buy one of these supercool-looking swan-boats so i started looking for something suitable on the net and found you straight away!  We would very much like your swan to be a part of our endeavour but I don’t really want to give away the nature of the event for all to see just yet!  So please please could you email me as soon as you can at ben.roworth@hotmail.co.uk so we could discuss the matter further.  It’s pretty exciting!

Thank you for your time,

Ben Roworth.