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Meanwhile Gardens Hydrosiren

Meanwhile Hydrosiren is a sculptural acoustic boat created by Simeon Nelson in collaboration with composer Rob Godman, commissioned by the Canal & River Trust with the aim of heightening perception and awareness of the canal waterways and their bankside gardens. 


The artwork was shown over the course of three weeks in October 2017 in a series of performances, which saw the sculptural boat punted along the Grand Union Canal from Little Venice to Meanwhile Gardens, Kensal Rise. 


The artwork’s concept takes as its starting point the unique community and environment of Meanwhile Gardens. Its ‘acanthus lily’ hull takes inspiration from the neighbourhood flora, while recordings from encounters with local people within the gardens were gathered by the composer to create the vessel’s unique soundscape. 


Sounds from below the waterline (usually inaudible) as well as fragments of music recorded from steelpan group The Metronomes, whose rehearsal base is at Meanwhile Gardens Community Association, are also featured. 

During ‘performance’ sailings the subtle soundscape is overlaid by the resonant voice of soprano Elizabeth Karani, who creates improvised arias in response to the ‘found sounds’. 


Together with the artist and boat-builder Martin Cottis, volunteers from the Canal & River Trust and students from the University of Hertfordshire were instrumental in the boat’s construction and decoration.





Simeon Nelson, Rob Godman

Title of work

Meanwhile Hydrosiren


Canal & River Trust


Meanwhile Gardens



Image credit

'Meanwhile Hydrosiren' launch from Little Venice. Photo credit: Ben Westoby

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