Spring Fling WaterOrgan Musical Artwork to be Launched on the Nith

Visitors to Scotland’s premiere open studios weekend will be treated to the unusual sight and sound of a pipe organ on a custom made boat moored on the River Nith.

WaterOrgan, which is supported by EventScotland (part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate), is the creation of Mark Zygadlo who is well known for highly inventive floating artworks.

The Dumfries and Galloway artist will launch the musical catamaran near the old Auldgirth Bridge, off the A76 between Dumfries and Thornhill, just ahead of the Spring Fling weekend from 25 to 27 May.

The playlist is still being sorted out but the tunes could include The Blue Danube, Old Man Riverand Rabbie Burns’ Sweet Afton.

Mark, from nearby Glenhead, said: “I am fascinated by water, and by rivers especially, as a platform for public art. The Nith is a wonderful river and a perfect platform for an artwork like this. 

“We really hope that visitors will find it fun and enjoy spending some time next to the river and listening to the music and other sounds it will generate.” 

WaterOrgan is also intended to get people thinking more about our rivers, the environmental issues affecting them, what they mean to us and how we can live with them in positive and celebratory way. 

Mark, who has spent many years working with wooden boats and is a keen sailor, built the pipe organ from scratch and has mounted it on an 18ft catamaran hull. 

A water wheel mounted between the hulls will power the organ via a system of cogs and drive belts.

Previous projects have included a tide-operated performance platform called the Tide Machine, in collaboration with Oceanallover 

Mark was also a co-founder of the Nithraid boat race in Dumfries and crafted the floating crane that is used to plunge a Salty Coo into the river after it has been carried through the streets at the end of the annual event.

Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland which runs Spring Fling, said: “We always try to encourage Spring Fling visitors to enjoy the beautiful Dumfries and Galloway countryside. 

“The WaterOrgan is a great way of doing that – visitors can make the artwork part of their journey around the region. Bring the family, the WaterOrgan will be something to excite and inspire all ages.”

Spring Fling is a much-loved feature of the Scotland’s cultural calendar, which this year sees 94 studios across the beautiful region of Dumfries and Galloway, throw open their doors to the public.

It’s a chance to meet painters, original printmakers, ceramicists, jewellers and glassmakers, wood and metal workers, photographers in the cottages, farms, galleries, mills, converted churches and other places that they work and live.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events for VisitScotland, said:“Spring Fling is a fantastic event that truly showcases the skills and work of the region’s artists and makers, and EventScotland is delighted to be supporting it through our Beacon Programme. 

“Mark Zygadlo’s fun and inventive public artwork WaterOrgan will no doubt capture the imagination of both locals and visitors alike and will provide the perfect platform to celebrate the country’s rivers and waterways in the run-up to Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.” 

Visitors will be able to see WaterOrgan working 10.30am to 5.30pm on 25 to 27 May.

Dr David Borthwick of the University of Glasgow will be holding talks for WaterOrgan visitors at 2pm on 25 May and 7pm on 26 May about Our Relationship with Rivers and Waters.

See www.spring-fling.co.uk.

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