The Navigators

Thames, London, 1989

Bow Gamelan Ensemble accumulated a flotilla of barges, crafts and vessels, living on the river Thames for six weeks making performances which they referred to as Port of Calls, on Bow Creek and then into the Thames by Waterloo Bridge, Richmond Bridge and Kew Bridge. Utilising a barge with a crane that they dug out of Pudding Mill River as a central platform for the performances, as well as using it as a living/sleeping space. Their flotilla of various vessels and floating platforms, including Bow Peep, El Bow, Bow Brummel, Bow Diddley, Bow Quet and Bow dica, each had a variety of instruments and pyrotechnics attached. The performances included the percussionist Z'EV , as well as Piers and Titus Burwell.

The packed banks of the River Thames have never been treated to tubes of smoke filled plastic erupting from a barge, miniature helicopters buzzing round like demented owls - you needed only to look away for a moment to miss firecrackers, giant mobiles of cymbals as high pressure fired water onto them, fire filled rusting jaws of baths opening and closing in crocodile like motion, or fleeting glimpses of a colourful hot air balloon, seemingly suspended amidst the traffic of Richmond Bridge.

Evening Standard