It was Robert N Rose who said, “Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands ever made,” but it is John Whitehead and Lynette Margerison of New Territories who are actually offering that very opportunity.
Working with Valley and Vale Community Arts and Arts Alive Wales, the artists and visionaries are running a Currach (traditional skin covered boat) building workshop, “From the Mountains to the Sea’ with renowned designer and boat builder, Rory Macphee.
John explains, “People will be involved in building a boat using their own hands and then will voyage together – it’s about having time and space to connect to the world. The first part of the project ‘Beneath the Mountain’, will be about building the boat, with the second part ‘The Voyage’, taking place in spring and summer of next year, will involve building 6-8 Currachs and learning how to sail them. Our journey will start from the source of the Wye, beginning on foot, horseback and bicycle from the Cambrian mountains down to Glasbury, from where we will continue on the journey by Currach along the south Wales coast embracing more or less the whole of south and mid Wales. (approximately 150 miles over 7 days). There is also a proposal that the Currachs will sail into Cardiff Bay to deliver a cargo of visions and hopes for the future to the Welsh Parliament. The resulting films, performance and documentation will be shown alongside the Currachs in the Boathouse at 2013’s Eisteddfod. Anyone with an interest in the making and handling of these traditional Celtic vessels is welcome to take part and can contact us on 07951 315821 or email here”
John, who initiated and designed the Talgarth Mill project which and won BBC’s BIG Village Lottery SOS, is also a self taught engineer, “I built my first house out of planks and rubbish really, on an allotment in Rochdale. I was 15 years old. I went on to own and run a circus and built it all, from the Big Top to a giant crossbow that shot me 35 ft,” he laughs. “I’ve always done my own welding and fabricating and also worked on several large sculptures for Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flower Shows .”
The versatile visionary has always had an affinity with Nature and recalls, “I remember being totally engrossed making dams in tractor ruts in a field when I was about 6 years old and suddenly standing up and feeling a presence in the landscape – like a big powerful friend.
“Lynette and I want to buy land to grow our own food, we have a corner of a friends allotment at the moment but want to grow more. Lynette is more grounded than I am, she’s definitely the gardener and is the one committed to bringing bits of salad home from the veg patch.”