IN MAY this year, I reported on a walk by artist Sue Bailey and photographer Pamela Chapman-Burrell from the source of the river down to the Thames Barrier which was designed to raise money for a very worthwhile charity – the Thames Boat Project.
The charity, which is based in Richmond, aims to make the river more accessible for the disabled, the disadvantaged and those who would not normally have a chance to get out on the water. They operate a converted barge – called the Richmond Venturer – which regularly takes up to 12 people on trips on the Thames or provides a learning base for local school children to get to know a bit more about the river and its wildlife.
As Sue and Pamela walked, they stopped occasionally for Sue to produce a picture or for Pamela to shoot some photos – and, in so doing, produced a pictorial diary of their trip.
Now, those pictures have been put up for sale and many have been snapped up by people keen to have a portrait or a photo of their favourite part of the river.
The walk took around 21 days to complete and, astonishingly, Sue produced more than 80 paintings and drawings during the trip.
She told me: “I served my apprenticeship as a fashion illustrator and, in that job, you have to be pretty swift to get the work done – I suppose I’ve never really lost that ability.
“I’d been talking about doing something like this for some time but originally, I was going to walk along the south coast painting as I went. Then, through Pamela, I was introduced to the Thames Boat Project and I thought it was a really worthwhile project that needed support and the idea for the Thames walk was born.”
The pair had already raised more than £4,000 before their joint exhibition at Roehampton University recently and Sue was delighted to have sold a significant number of her pictures – priced at anything between £45 and £420 with the proceeds also being added to the fund.
Because of the level of interest, Sue and Pamela are now contemplating a kind of ‘floating gallery’ using the boat project’s barge Venturer which would journey back up the Thames from Richmond to Staines giving people the chance to take a look at the artwork.
“We’re hoping to put that together at the start of next season – say April or May 2010 – but we need to sort out the details first,” said Pamela.
Miranda Jaggers, the manager of the boat project is thrilled by the support and remains keen to spread the word about the possibilities of schools and disabled groups making use of Venturer.
“This has been a brilliant idea and we’ve really appreciated the support from Sue and Pamela,” she said. “It’s vital to educate people about the river and its wildlife and we’re hoping to produce some new packages for schools for next year so that they can bring pupils down to the boat – we’ll moor up somewhere convenient for the school – and teach them about the river. “
As I get details of the proposed ‘floating gallery’ trip, I’ll include them in Riverwatch and having seen the very high quality both of Sue’s paintings and Pamela’s photos, I can highly recommend a visit.
If you’d like to find out more about the Thames Boat Project, visit www.thamesboatproject.org.