Boston Buoys Art Trail opens in Lincolnshire

The Boston Buoys art trail is a series of six public artworks created on former working buoys. They have been created by artists Carrie Reichardt, Jo Chapman and Bex Simon and have been placed at locations around the town of Boston. Each artist was responsible for two of the buoys.

Each of the works links back to Boston itself. Telling stories of it’s people, it’s history and it’s environment. The buoys themselves have found new purpose after become surplus to requirements.

One of the buoys from Jo Chapman in Boston

As a town, Boston is rich in history. At one point it was the second biggest harbour in Britain. Next to only London in importance it became a key trading port as part of the Hanseatic League. The wealth that this generated can still be seen in some of the buildings today. It’s Guild Hall and St Botolph’s Church in particular are must sees

A mermaid sits next to one of the Boston Buoys designed by Carrie Reichardt
A mermaid at the launch of the Boston Buoys Art Trail. She is sitting next to the ‘By Sea’ buoy from Carrie Reichardt

Community and Public Art

During recent years however Boston has experienced some tensions. These have been mainly due to concerns around migration. Today it is a town with a high population of migrant labour. Many work in the local agricultural sector and had been responding to calls from employers desperate for people to work the land. Things came to a head in the 2016 European Referendum. Boston voted 75% leave, the highest anywhere in the country. How to create synergies within different community groups have become a key focus for policy makers in the area.

Detail of the boston buoy near the harbour from Jo Chapman
Jo Chapman has incorporated local micro stories with a focus on travel and transition

Integration certainly seems to be one of the key drivers behind the Boston Buoys. This is public art which helps to tell the story of the town. Each of the artists have tackled it in their own way. Jo Chapman has sought to weave stories of travel and transition, this set against a buoy used as a stabilizing yet ever evolving feature. Carrie Reichardt has created tattoo imagery linked to the sea as a draw to bring viewers to a deeper understanding of the social history of the area. Bex Simon meanwhile has sought inspiration with the flora and fauna of the area, recognizing the role nature plays within the local environment.

One of the Boston Buoys on John Adams Way from Bex Simon
Bex Simon has focused on the natural environment. This piece featuring cow parsley sits in a small wildlife meadow containing many of the plants referenced in the work

Boston Buoys Artists

Carrie Reichardt – By Sea & By Land

Two buoys called ‘Of Sea’ and ‘Of Land’ have been created by Carrie Reichardt and her team. As ever with her work she is supported by her fellow artists of the Treatment Rooms Collective. Long time collaborators ATM and Karen Francesca helped to work on the designs. Sian Wonnish was Carrie’s main assistant in terms of creating the the work. Linda Griffiths aka ArtyTart helped with the ceramic fish for ‘By Sea’ and UK and International artists sent ceramic flowers for the ‘By Land’ buoy. Installing the work, a team of 8 were involved. This is a crew of artists who know each other well. Many have been working on public art projects for years and the trust they all have in each other is evident to see. The name ‘By Sea and By Land’ takes it’s inspiration from the Boston coat of arms and it’s motto.

By Sea

The Boston Buoy at the entrance to St Botolph Footbridge
‘By Sea’ can be found at the entrance to the St Botolph footbridge. Dominated by the images of the mermaids they take their inspiration from sea faring tattoo designs. The fish which run along the bottom of the piece have all been made by the local community. Stories taken from archival and contemporary sources have been incorporated into the artwork.

Reichardt’s style has become much for archival over the past five years or so. The use of printed tile has enabled her to tell a story. Obsessive researching follows. More and more the work that Carrie Reichardt seeks to produce is rooted in local stories and local histories. Both buoys find themselves telling the untold stories of Boston. Not just the usual talking points but a celebration of local people and their achievements. Many are found through old newspapers and historical forums.

By Land

Carrie Reichardt's boston buoy in Central Park
‘By Land’ celebrates the areas fertile land and the bounty of it’s harvest. It has been partly inspired by heritage seed packets and adverts. Mosaic flowers have been incorporated into the piece sent from artists from all around the world. Reichardt likes to incorporate many artists work so as to give a greater sense of togetherness and collective achievement. The piece is located in Boston’s Central Park
A mosaic cauliflower on the ‘By Land’ buoy is from Karen Francesca who worked on the design with Carrie and is a homage to the agricultural nature of the area

Jo Chapman – Flotsam & Lagan

Wrapped in steel seaweed the two buoys created by Jo Chapman have the furthest distance between them. Called Flotsam and Lagan they both follow the same theme. That of a connection with the buoys former life with human stories of travel and transition. Shaped out of steel ‘Flotsam’ is positioned close to the centre of the town near the bus station whilst ‘Lagan’ sits nearer to harbour outlet at the joining of the River Witham and the Black Sluice.

Flotsam by Jo Chapman can be found in the bus station near the town centre. It shows the buoy covered with seaweed made from steel surrounding by local stories. Surrounded by cockle shells it is as if the buoy has been washed up on shore. Flotsam is the name given to goods washed up following a shipwreck
At the base of Jetsom are cockle shells. The shells are part of the installation and create a strong smell of the sea that will likely fade in time.

Nautical Terms

The names of Jo Chapmans Boston Buoys remember historical nautical terms. Lagan refers to materials or goods that might have been left on the sea floor and attached to a floating marker such as a buoy. This might have happened in an emergency when a ship was sinking. Goods would be cast overboard and marked with a buoy so that they could be recovered later. It takes it’s name from the old French word Lagand which means ‘lying’. Flotsam meanwhile takes it’s name from cargo which might have been washed up on the shore following a shipwreck.

Lagan by Jo Champan is positioned at the meeting point between the Witham and the Black Sluice

Bex Simon – Windward Bloom and Leeward Bloom

The natural world has inspired Bex Simon for her Boston Buoys. Working with her husband David they have created two works which straddle either side of the busy John Adams Way. Called Windward Bloom and Leeward Bloom they each pay homage to the natural world. Both of the buoys have also been upturned so that the resemble giant vases. Within each, the flora and fauna has been made of of steel. The metal flowers then reach skywards and glisten when the sun hits from a certain angle. The names windward and leeward are a nautical reference. The terms relate to the prevailing winds on the opposite sides of an island. Windward faces into the prevailing trade winds whilst Leeward faces away from the wind.

Bex Simon explained her Windward Bloom piece

Blacksmith to Artsmith

Both Bex Simon and her husband David are Blacksmiths and it is through this craft that they create their art. Often large in scale the two found some fame on the BBC’s Money for Nothing programme. They were some of the artisans on the show often presented with tasks to up cycle items into something other than they were originally intended. Bex prefers the term ‘artsmith’ to describe her work nowadays. Telling me that it seems to more closely reflect what they do.

Windward Bloom set against a field of cow parsley

Windward Bloom

The artworks as part of the Boston Buoy project are both huge and detailed. A mixture of laser cut and hand forging. The first Windward Bloom is filled with cow parsley, rape seed and creeping jenny. All these are plants found in the local area. Placed within the upturned buoy it has been placed within a wildflower meadow. Both art and nature finding itself blended together.

Windward Bloom in the wildflower meadow

Leeward Bloom

The next Boston Buoy, Leeward Bloom sits across the busy John Adams carriageway on the other side of the road. This is a piece inspired by the voluntary work of Boston in Bloom. It features alliums, samphire and eucalyptus. As part of the work local communities also took part in blacksmithing sessions and contributed to the creation of the eucalyptus leaves in the final piece.

Detail from Leeward Bloom
Leeward Bloom looking out towards St Botolph’s Church in Boston

The Boston Buoys are a community art project in Boston, Lincolnshire. They were unveiled on Saturday 3 July 2021. The main artists involved were Carrie Reichardt, Jo Chapman and Bex Simon. The project has been supported by Transported Art along with Boston Borough Council, Boston Big Local, Boston in Bloom and the Environment Agency Boston Barrier Scheme.

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