In 2019 local artist Tracey Meek was commissioned to take up an artist’s residency with Birdswood, a heritage narrowboat which runs trips along the Cromford Canal. Taking boat trips along the Canal and recording her journey she created a series of 3D collages, to make a bespoke pop up installation and experience aboard Birdswood.
Tracey took her inspiration from the history and landscape surrounding her. She said:
“When I began working on this project I felt overwhelmed: to somehow fit all of this history into a small papery display
seemed like an enormous task. And then I relaxed into the process, the tearing and cutting of paper, the lino printing and the
painting. I decided to just take in my surroundings, spend some time in the Derwent Valley, enjoy trips along Cromford Canal aboard the Birdswood Boat (imagining I was captain!) wandering through Matlock Bath reminiscing of times spent with my now teenage daughter, when it was okay to laugh and be silly and I was still a cool parent. I tried to bring to the installation my experience of this beautiful place and the memories it holds for me, but also celebrate the history of the mills and the industry that was built around them.”
Tracey collaborated with musicians and composers HAIKU SALUT , based in Cromford to put a soundtrack to her installation. Their music fuses elements of neoclassical, post rock, folk and electronica. They said:
“Having been fans of Tracey Meek’s work for a long time we were thrilled to be asked to collaborate on this project and provide a musical accompaniment for her installation.
Inspired by canal fog and Derwent Valley mist the soundscape we have written for the project uses found sounds taken from the tow path fused with synths, treated piano, and sweeping guitar. The piece was produced and mixed in our studio which was originally built in the 18th century as a stable for the horses who worked for the mill.”
This unique installation and experience took place on 1st November 2019 as part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days Festival. Have a look at this short video below which includes a clip of the music at the end.