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Marta Golubowska


All aboard! The Eco Showboat

5 min read

All aboard! The Eco Showboat

5 min read


All aboard! The Eco Showboat

Part floating arts studio, part science lab, the recently-launched Eco Showboat project boasts action and ambition by the bucket-load.

With the aim of connecting communities along Ireland’s waterways to ignite urgent climate action and build a shared, zero-carbon future; the Eco Showboat project website and an exhibition of the vessel’s design drawings were launched in August on the banks of the River Nore, Kilkenny.


Full Steam Ahead

Ready to take to our inland waterways from 2022, this one-of-a-kind ecological floating arts lab is being developed by artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly of the School of Looking. Having had its heyday in 1929, the impressive 48-metre-long heritage barge will be transformed into a zero-carbon vessel suitable for Eco Showboat expeditions across Ireland’s beautiful lakes, rivers and canals – sparking a countrywide artistic response to climate change along the way.

“The 48m, historic barge, built in 1929, will be transformed into an carbon-neutral vessel through a countrywide effort – a symbol of our growth towards a green future – undertaking a two-year voyage across the country on the inland waterways and working with artists, scientists and communities to harness our collective imagination and spark climate action” – The Eco Showboat manifesto

Sketch of a boat

An Adaptable Platform

Set to be an adaptable platform, the Eco Showboat is expected to respond to its various, site-specific contexts. Different audiences, arts projects, orientations and weather will be facilitated at every stop on its journey.

 “Adaptability has become central to the design of the boat as a platform, especially in relation to the unpredictable evolution of the Covid-19 crisis, which has pushed us to keep our public activities outside”

Architect sketch of a boat

Just some of the vessel’s functions as it makes its journey will be a stage, an outdoor cinema, a covered outdoor venue and a studio lab.

With five projects involved in the Eco Showboat initiative, participants will collaborate with the creative, scientific and wider communities they meet en route, to awaken a better understanding of the beauty, possibilities and problems of fresh water. 

The Eco Showboat’s five collaborating projects: 

Marie Hanlon | Dublin

Water quality is central to Marie’s project, ‘The Way We Treat Water’, which will focus on water in a time of climate change – the water cycle, flooding, drought, water treatment, water recycling, desalination etc. The project supports the idea that available water is a limited entity now threatened by climate change, rising population and the ever-increasing demands of modern lifestyle.

Marta Golubowsk | Kildare

An artist living on the Grand Canal, Marta is part of a community whose lives depend on the waters of the canals. Her project is called ‘Invasive Species’ and is concerned with waterweed known as ‘Coon’s tail’ or ‘Hornwort’ (Ceratophyllum demersum) which wraps itself around the shafts of propellers and makes navigation difficult or even impossible.

Paul Berg | Clare

Four years ago Paul started working on ‘An Crannog Ceoil’ (‘The Musical Island’), a four-metre in diameter raft fixed to a disused pontoon. The project involves working with air displacement by water pressure (in this case using the natural flow and rise of Lough Derg, where the raft is located) to play sound pipes, such as deconstructed harmoniums, bamboo and timber. For his collaboration with the Eco Showboat, Paul plans to construct a range of low-sounding, free floating pipes that can be played on the island and on the harbour wall where the raft will be moored. 

Joanna McGlynn | Galway

Joanna develops context-specific projects in response to the immediate physical environment, with a sensitivity to communities of people, place and interest. Themes of natural heritage, plant biodiversity and micro-ecosystems form the foundation of her collaboration with the Eco Showboat which she has been developing in partnership with a sound artist, Anne Marie Deacy and with the help of researcher Dr. Christie Cunniffe. 

Chelsea Canavan & Deirdre Power | Limerick

Chelsea and Deirdre look at existing communities of interest along the canals that continue to retain a belonging long after the redundancy of the commercial movement of goods has stopped. Canals emerged as controlled landscapes in response to created industries along routes. As a result, constructed ‘artificial’ waterways that evolved present ecologies within vernacular architecture, exposing new histories. 

4 people holding notebooks

Keep your eyes on the waterways in 2022 for this unique vessel!

Find out more about the fascinating Eco Showboat project here.

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