Forty-Nine Coracles with Messages 2004

49 miniature coracles of bramble, printed computer paper, linen thread, linseed oil
each 190 x 160 x 40mm

Work exhibited and floated downstream during an artist’s residency at the source of the river Severn, Hafren Forest, Wales. The work was made in collaboration with riverside communities, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown and Cywaith Cymru . Artworks Wales with the financial support of the Arts Council of Wales and the sponsorship of the Forestry Commission.

Forty-Nine Coracles with Messages

Forty-nine miniature coracles with printed messages were created and floated down the River Severn as a means of exploring the river as an ecosystem with human interaction as a component part. Some of the coracles were made by young people from schools situated on the river who also walked near the source and along the river in Newtown.

Coracles were chosen for their ingenious and low-impact use of local materials. Coracles made from ash, cloth and tar were historically used for transport and fishing on the River Severn. The miniature coracles were made from brambles gathered from Hafren Forest and the riverbank in Newtown. They were stitched with linen thread, covered with paper and waterproofed with linseed oil. They were thus completely biodegradable. Each coracle had text printed on its paper covering. The text was presented in the language of its source - mostly English, with a smattering of Welsh placenames throughout. Some of the text came out of an investigation of the river through walks, interviews, books and the internet and other words were contributed by young people.

Our environment is increasingly ‘read’ and interpreted through text. A substantial part of this exploration of the River Severn was derived from printed and on-screen text. The coracles incorporated textual messages about the river for others to read. They were first exhibited at Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown and then launched in the river for others to find downstream.

Morag Colquhoun 2004