Bridging the Clyde, but just for the day

10 Nov 2010

A piece of performance art made it's way back and forth across the Clyde at the weekend, creating a a temporary artistic installation, with a rope bridging the river.

The performance consisted of 1.5 kilometres of thick mooring rope being pulled back and forth across the Clyde by a workboat, winding around bollards on opposite banks as the boat made its zigzag progress downstream. A lattice of mooring line was created and tensioned between the two banks before the rope was released - the temporary 'bridging' dismantled.

The wet weather didn't dampen the commitment and enthusiasm of the Offshore Workboats team that took the rope back and forth, achieving a total of 6 crossing of the river.

The City Inn played an important part in the event too, providing a dry haven for spectators, many of whom were delegates at IETM Glasgow 2010 - an artistic showcase bringing to the city up to 600 delegates form across Europe to sample some of the best performance, live art, theatre and dance in Scotland.

Bridging is described as a site-responsive performance situated on the banks and waterway of the River Clyde in Glasgow city centre. In a unique collaboration between artists Minty Donald and Nick Millar (Laika) and Offshore Workboats, the performance brought together 'culture' and 'industry' in a poetic exploration of the role of the River - past, present and future.

The audience was invited to engage with the changing uses and iconography of the Clyde as it undergoes a period of major regeneration, and to consider the significance of rivers in the functional and imaginative lives of cities across the world.

The performance builds on a history of artworks responding to the river, including George Wylie's Paperboat (1990), NVA's Stormy Waters (1995), Stephen Hurrel's Zones (1999) and Susan Philipsz's Lowlands (2010). In doing so, it reflects on Glasgow's evolving artistic identity on the twentieth anniversary of the city's year as European City of Culture.

How the artists see it:

"Bridging is our response to a sense of confusion about the role of the River Clyde in Glasgow today - both functionally and symbolically. Everyone knows the saying 'The Clyde made Glasgow and Glasgow made the Clyde' - but what does the river mean to the city now that that the ship-building industry is almost extinct, there is no significant water-based transport operating on the Clyde and very few boats? While the riverbanks are undergoing considerable regeneration, the water itself remains a relatively dead space. Is the river now just 'in the way' - a barrier between north and south? Can it only exist as a heritage site - a roped-off reminder of Glasgow's maritime past? Or can we look to other cities, like Copenhagen or Bristol, to find models for re-animating it as a living waterway for the 21st century? These are some of the questions we hope Bridging might prompt people to consider."