The Story So Far

Saturday Night’s Pecha Kucha at the Cooperative (part of Mercy’s Midnight Special Series) proved a good point to take stock and tell the story so far of the Open Source Swan Pedalo – 20 slides:20 seconds each – here goes…

Introducing the worlds first Open Source Swan Pedalo – the “People’s Pedalo” – whose provenance can be traced to the “Canal &” project which Re-Dock developed with Alan Dunn in North Liverpool during 2008 at the behest of Liverpool Biennial.

“Canal &” traced and mapped people’s personal and subjective memories of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  We collected, documented and archived hundreds of people’s memories and stories.  Everything from tales of childhood adventures, tragedies long forgotten and swimming in the polluted water.  Several of these memories were of romance: “I remember kissing the fellas” / “I had my heart broken by the canal”.

We used these starting points as stimuli and asked that people make suggestions for the future of the canal.  Somewhere along the line somebody proposed “A Tunnel of Love” and, along with two dozen others ideas, we created photo-montages to share the ideas further.  The montages were intended for signage installations (later realised with “Constellation of Signs”) and they eventually ended up on a billboard in Linacre.

And here is where a bizarre feedback loop began. Liverpool Biennial went out and purchased four beautiful Swan Pedalos for an unrelated project which they called “Urbanism”.  The Swan Pedalos were managed for the day but, during the night, children came and liberated them – they took them for a ride along the canal and left them stranded there (after much boisterous play).  When the pedalos were discovered the following day one was partially sunk and, in the process of being recovered, it had to be cut to pieces.  The remaining three were heavily chastised for their part in the escape… and many feared they too would never be seen again.

Then, completely unexpectedly, after two years in a storage container in the Eldonian Village the Swan Pedalos showed up on Ebay!  After a couple of days of twitter banter with @biennial we decided to make an offer on the one remaining Swan (its brethren having already made their way to Cornwall.)

Committing £100 was the easy part.  But – rousing a collective infrastructure to transport, store and manage this unweildy beast – that is The Challenge.  On November 16th a group assembled to move the Swan (with assistance from Mal from International Business Supplies) and much of what followed is already well documented on this blog.