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Doncaster ArtBomb Festival

14th August 2022 12:30 - 1pm at the Boathouse

Close to The Water - Let The Boat Sing! Art and rowing don’t often come together but in this new aquatic performance specially commissioned by ArtBomb, artist, curator and rower Rob La Frenais will balance a lightweight single sculling boat (a very fast boat as rowed by Steve Redgrave in the Olympics) in the middle of the River Don and simultaneously take the audience on a journey through the history of rowing, class war, decolonisation, speed, gender, rowing and religion, and indigenous technology while trying very hard not to fall in.


As a rower with 25 years experience he has been trying to bring together artists who also row in his Wild Rowing social media group and through this he met the renowned artist Ingrid Pollard (shortlisted for the Turner Prize) who is not only a rower but has also made a new video work ‘Rhythm In Hand’, with her rowing club, being shown around the UK in various galleries. Pollard recently spoke about her experiences as a black rower in a Guardian interview.

Rob boat lecture (1).webp

A rare experience of a keynote lecture by Pollard, at the Unitarian Church on Thursday August 11, moderated by La Frenais, will precede his performance on the surface of the Rover Don on Sunday August 14 which can be seen and heard from the shore at Doncaster Rowing Club. Close To the Water was first performed on the River Aura to open the New Performance Turku Festival, where the audience viewed the performance in high winds from a moving floating bridge. It’s then been done virtually during the pandemic at festivals in Linz, Austria and Bergen, Norway.


‘Close To The Water - Let The Boat Sing’ will be the first time it has been performed on a UK river. It will include elements of Northern rowing history, be part of a water-based event following the clean-up of the River Don (rowers are very conscious of water quality) organised by the Don Catchment Rivers Trust and be followed by a coracle/crayfish-catching action by Japanese artist Inari.

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