September 28th, 2016

Stratford River Festival will launch a boat with a difference

Stratford River Festival will launch a boat with a difference Stratford River Festival will launch a boat with a difference
Will Alexander with his cardboard gondola. (s)

AN ARTIST is hoping he doesn’t suffer a soggy bottom when he takes to the Avon at this year’s Stratford River Festival.

Will Alexander will launch a 6.5metre gondola – made entirely of cardboard.

The creation, which will be a highlight at the festival over the weekend of July 2 and 3 – is half the length of a real gondola but made in exactly the same way only using cardboard instead of traditional materials.

Renowned Stratford-born ‘cardboard’ artist Will has spent weeks constructing the gondola. He will take the helm at the festival to practice his gondoliering skills before heading off to Venice. There he plans to show it at international exhibition, the Venice Biennale, and also hopes to work as a gondolier carrying passengers aboard his cardboard creation.

But before he heads abroad he’s taking his creation to Birmingham argued by some as having more miles of canal than the Italian city where it will form part of a festival in the city.

The gondola is not Will’s first cardboard construction. Previous work includes a cardboard car, ice cream van and tram.

He first dreamed up his gondola project five years ago and enlisted the help of Stratforward member and River Festival sponsor Avon Boating, which has its own fully restored gondola, originally owned by Marie Corelli.

Will, who studied fine art at university in Birmingham and now lives in London, has been given space by Avon Boating to work on his creation, as well as advice and training from managing director Nick Birch.

Will said: “Ideally I want to take it to Venice and work as a gondolier with it, that’s my crazy dream.

“It looks lovely just as a framework, and if I wanted to I could just put it in a gallery as it is. But the dream is to put it in the water and that’s what we’re going to do.”

More than 100 narrow boats and other craft will moor up along the banks of the Avon for the eighth annual festival, with many illuminated on the Saturday evening.

There will also be music on the recreation ground bandstand, including party band Mister Shakes and Glenn Miller tribute group the Ashby Big Band, together with a firework display and charity, craft and food and drinks stalls.

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