Lying Low to keep afloat at 2021 Visual Arts Centre Tom Hackett


tom hackett sculpture

lying low to keep afloat 

a conversational river odyssey featuring a collaboration with julian woodcock

20-21 Visual Arts Centre

Church Square


DN15 6TB

23/01/2021 - 05/06/2021

During 2020 Tom Hackett walked and paddled a wooden canoe around riverside parts of Stoke, Burton, Nottingham, Newark and Scunthorpe. Five key towns situated on the River Trent in England from its source to mouth. Initially planned to take place in spring, the walks were delayed and took place over the summer due to Covid 19.

Wearing his signature text conversation suits he gathered incidental conversations from those he met along the way. Following lockdown one, Tom found he had emerged into a changed and shifting sense of reality. Originally the idea was to focus very much on the river and the towns it journeyed through. But not suprisingly Covid 19 and lockdown also  became a key part of the incidental narrative.

The harvested dialogue evolves into an art installation, with printed conversation fragments wrapped around snaking swimming float forms. Audio speakers play a fusion of voice fragments recorded and mixed by Julian Woodcock with a specially composed piano piece, written and performed by Freddie Hackett. Together they form a sound collage suggestive of a dislocated group conversation. The spoken content ranges from the playful to the poignant and reflective. The age, gender and ethnicity of the voices have been deliberately disassociated from the identity of the original authors.  Overall ‘Lying low to keep afloat’ serves to celebrate aspects of the experiences and lives of those who Hackett encountered along the Trent  during a most extraordinary year.

Lying low to keep afloat was  developed working with 20-21 Visual Art Centre and Brewhouse Arts Centre. It was supported by public funding by Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England and 20-21 Visual Arts Centre.

The exhibition travellled to

Brewhouse Arts Centre 

Burton on Trent

DE14 1AA