Hugging the Canal

Singing for their supper, artists Jennifer Reid and Simon Woolham set off to walk the 127 miles of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, exchanging their traditional songs with inn keepers along the way for accommodation and food.

For two weeks, walking, singing and drawing along the way, artists Simon Woolham and Jennifer Reid walked the 127 miles of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Hugging the Canal saw the pair ‘sing for their supper’, offering performances of canal ballads in exchange for a room for the night at various inns along the way.

Taking in Leeds, Saltaire and Skipton in Yorkshire, before hitting the red rose county for their longest stretch, meeting people and performing in Nelson, Burnley, Accrington, Blackburn, Wigan, Parbold, Halsall and Downholland, the pair concluded the trek in Merseyside, stopping in Aintree before finally entering the historic Liverpool Docks along the tow path.

Simon Woolham is an artist who looks upon exploration of places as a way of documenting, revealing and explaining individual and shared histories, while Jennifer Reid is a leading performer and expert in the traditional folk songs of industrial and pre-industrial Lancashire, including the famous ‘broadsides’, and has appeared at events including the Manchester International Festival and the Glastonbury Festival.

Helping to celebrate the bicentenary of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and working with Super Slow Way in leading a resurgence of creative and leisure activity along the route, the project stopped at pubs and community centres each afternoon or evening, each acting as a stopping off points for shared drawing and singing activity as a way of generating layers of shared, often hidden stories. Songs and dances were created whilst on the canal for exchange when they arrived at their destinations, for food, drink and accommodation.