Je and Maria with Karen and Nina from Somewhere

Starring, in order of appearance…

The making of The Floating Cinema.

The boat on its way to have its hull painted

Emma Underhill and Laura Harford of UP Projects : The Curators

UP Projects initiated the project and brought us and Somewhere together.

Boat out for a projection test (photo Nina Pope)

Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope of Somewhere : The Artists

Karen and Nina found Cole and programmed the Floating Cinema. Here they are testing projecting from the boat while it’s on the move.

'Cole' as she was before we started cinemising her

Annie Myers and Hazel Saunders : The Boat Owners

The Floating Cinema is actually a boat originally named ‘Cole’ owned by Annie Myers and Hazel Saunders. Originally built as a British Waterways workboat Annie and Hazel bought Cole in Stockton, Warwickshire and sailed her down to London, ‘camping’ on board. Work had already begun on adapting the boat for community trips when Somewhere first saw it early in 2011.

Annie and Hazel (left) with Nina and Laura (right)

Fortunately they met Annie and Hazel just at the point that the boat shell could still be adapted to make the on-board cinema.

Will at his onboard mission control

Will Austin : The Boat Whisperer

Houseboat owner Will has carried out extensive refurbishment works both clearly visible (painting the boat bright turquoise!) and invisible.

Will and Cole nearly done

In installing a bathroom and doing up the kitchen, Will has made the boat habitable; in being there to lend a hand with the installation of every component, he’s helped the whole thing come together; in installing the electrics and audio visuals, he’s turned the boat into a working cinema; and in singing suitably cheesy songs (eg “The Final Curtain” when the curtains were going up) he’s kept us laughing.

Laura taking a pic of Jill (left) with a test print of her pattern

Jill Tytherleigh : The ‘Puff’ Pattern Designer and Illustrator

Illustrator Jill created a fantastic love child of art deco, roses and castles, and the East London waterways.

Je holding up the test print

Jill’s work is used on the Puff as well as on printed info, thw website and in the sign.

Je with Peter (top) at his workshop

Peter Scully and friends at AB3 Workshops : The Steel ‘Treacle Tart’ Fabricators

AB3 Workshops fabricated the Puff’s structure in their fantastic Hackney Wick workshops.

The Treacle Tart at AB3 Workshops

The structure resembles a treacle tart and is made from welded steel tubing.

The Treacle Tart being installed

The installation was quite exciting as the steelwork had to be lifted onboard by hand from the tow path.

Welding the Treacle Tart into place

It was welded directly to the gunnel making for a neat detail.

Jeckells' amazing workshop

Everyone at Jeckells The Sailmakers : The not-a-sail ‘Puff’ Makers

The Puff was made from sail fabric by Norfolk-based sailmakers, Jeckells.

Puff Prototyping

They used their sailmaking skills to create a rather un-sail-like quilted item…

Puff being installed

…that fits snugly over the Treacle Tart.

Jill’s pattern was silk screen printed in the Floating Cinema’s signature bright turquoise onto silver sail fabric.

Simon with his prototype flip-up seats

Simon Jones : The Furniture Maker

Simon made twelve flip up seats for the cinema.

Simon's Prototype Seat

They’re made from reclaimed oak tables.

Annie and a reclaimed oak tabletop

Responding to the tight, narrow space of the boat, the seats face diagonally inwards…

Je and Jane testing out the prototype seats

…offering legroom at the same time as angling cinema-goers towards the screen.

Georgia and Jane offering up the test curtain

Georgia Bosson : The Curtain and Upholstery Creator

Textile designer Georgia has created a fantastic smocked curtain that blacks out light in the cinema.

Test Smock

The use of smocking creates a fabric that can fold up neatly and create texture alluding to the opulence of cinema interiors while being space-conscious in this tight space.

Georgia's cats enjoying the curtain

Cats like it too.

Solly Vaughan painting the sign (photo Nina Pope)

Solly Vaughan and Peter Hardwicke : The Sign Painters

The final touch was a traditionally painted version of Jill’s design.

Jane, Je, Jill and Georgia at Bow Locks where the boat was transformed

The completed Floating Cinema on her maiden voyage

The completed Floating Cinema on her maiden voyage

The Floating Cinema

with UP Projects, Somewhere, Morph Structures, Will Austin, Jeckells The Sailmakers, AB3 Workshops, Simon Jones, Georgia Bosson, and Jill Tytherleigh

(Completed 2011)

The Floating Cinema is an old work boat re-imagined into a cinema for intimate on-board film screenings, larger outdoor film events and other film-related activities curated by artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie (known collectively as Somewhere). The structure navigated the waterways of the five Olympic host boroughs during the summer of 2011 and during that time events were held in 26 venues and included screenings of more than 60 filmmakers, 10 bespoke tours, and was visited by over 75,000 people.

The Cinema Space

The existing boat was 2m wide by 16m long with two enclosed cabins at either end, a 4m long glass-fronted interior, and a 3.5m length open to the elements. The boat has an engine allowing the cinema to move around the canals autonomously.

The Floating Cinema near Bow Locks

The transformation of the boat into a cinema was a collaborative process involving an array of expert fabricators and local craftspeople. The existing boat was refurbished by local canalboat dweller Will Austin. This crisp structure was contrasted by the soft quilted canopy, which consisted of a treacletart-like lattice made from steel tubes by local steel fabricator Peter Scully; and a soft quilt made by sailmakers. We also worked with illustrator Jill Tytherleigh who designed the unique pattern that is sreenprinted on the sail fabric.

Floating Cinema Interior

To create the interior, furniture maker Simon Jones devised 12 bespoke flip-up cinema seats that allow 12 people to either face forward towards a screen at one end, or face each other for workshops and seminars.

Flip-Up Seat

These seats are designed to fold away and flip up to allow this small space to be cleared for non-seated events.

Storage Behind Flip-up Seat for Upholstery

Textile designer Georgia Bosson made removable upholstery cushions for the seats to ensure comfort during feature-length films or longer journeys.

Smocked curtain folds away neatly

Georgia also created blackout curtains that have an intricate smocking structure…

Reverse side of smocked curtain

… creating the sense of luxury and glamour associated with cinemas, even on this small boat.

The Puff

The open space is used as an entrance lobby and spill-out during screenings and workshops.

Interior under the Puff

It also acts as an outdoor viewing area protected from the elements for admiring the landscape when the boat is on the move.

Pattern printed on the Puff

The fabric pattern draws inspiration from Art Deco, a style strongly associated with both boats and cinemas, and Roses and Castles, the traditional narrow-boat decoration style. The pattern encapsulates the nature of the project as a whole: an extraordinary melange of diverse functions and characteristics that come together to form an unusual and expressive creation.

Inside the Floating Cinema

This project formed part of CREATE festival 2011 and is the latest commission in UP Projects’ Portavilion programme, an ongoing project that explores the possibilities for temporary, large-scale public art. Portavilion 2011 was commissioned by Olympic Delivery Authority as part of its Arts and Cultural strategy and funded by Arts Council England. It is an important strand of the cultural participation programme in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Floating Cinema