Friday, 21 September 2012

Oil Painting 38 - Gas Street Basin

'The Heart of the Canal Network' , the last painting from our stay in Birmingham.
A found a good pulpit to view the mixed landscape from, stood up at the top of the old ramp leading to the cast iron footbridge. The vista was complicated and of interest right the way round, so I have attempted to condense a 270 degree view into a rectangular canvas, enjoyed skewing and manipulating the space. The scene contained a lot of themes I have been enjoying exploring with water reflection, dramatic near and far, obvious passages and routes for the eye on several levels above and below our vantage point. Also of interest Was the contrast of architecture, and some colourful elements with the glimpse of cafe culture and the bright boats in the marina, all coming off a central pontoon like a fern leaf.

I was greeted after only 15 minutes of setting up with a cup of tea from a resident boater in the basin, a Mr David who is a columnist for a few canal publications including Canals Rivers and Boats. There cannot be many city centre locations where you can stand and a stranger will bring you a cup of tea. Mr David wasn't the only resident to come and chat, there seems to be a photographer in every other boat in the Basin and a genuinely creative vibe amongst the boaters.

Meeting the canal community in Gas St was a enjoyable and fitting end to our time in Birmingham. Stopping for water on the way out I came the closest I have to falling in the canal, overlooked by hundreds of windows of the new cube building alongside the Mailbox. I leapt to the boat gunwale from the side and slipped, luckily I had managed the grip with both hands on the rail on the top of the boat and pulled myself out, but for a while I was dangling off the side with the water coming up to both knees. Apparently you are not a proper boater until you have fallen in. I see this as a sign that I have now done more than dip my toes in the world of boating!

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