The Light Ships

This summer, a new regular marvel will unfold in the ancient and distinctive fenlands of south east Lincolnshire. The Light Ships, which I’m doing in partnership with Transported, is:

  • A revaluation of Fenland churches as historic works of art and as sites of contemporary creativity;
  • An exploration of the village church’s layered meanings in community life now; and
  • A celebration of the stories, memories and associations bound up in every church.

The Light Ships revolves around the Fenland’s ancient churches. Each one is unique, its form, treasures and meanings built up over centuries by the people who have lived alongside, used and owned it. Each one is an ark of creativity and memory, carrying a community’s life across oceans of time, continually refitted during the voyage to meet changing needs in changing times.

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The Light Ships focuses on 14 Lincolnshire villages, prioritised by Transported, an arts initiative working across Boston and South Holland Districts. It welcomes anyone and everyone with an interest to be involved – parishioners, vicars and volunteers; masons, cleaners and gardeners; choirs, bell-ringers, musicians, needleworkers and other artists; schools, clubs and community associations. We’ll share stories, insights and knowledge of each unique place, looking and talking and listening until a collective image of ‘church-ness’ begins to form.

Words, film and photography will portray the buildings as lived-in spaces not just architectural wonders – sites of meaning and local spirit of place. A separate website will record progress, collect research materials and enable online conversation. The Light Ships will end with a book and a short film that are both documents of a summer’s work and a millennium of life in Fenland Lincolnshire.

The Light Ships website will go live on 1 May and the project will be completed with some celebratory events in September.


  1. The Light Ships project sounds magical. Your eloquent prose was a joy to read and I look forward to hearing more about the project. Jan Dungey (Waveney & Blyth Arts)

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. It’s always nice to cast off without knowing what shape the voyage will take. I hope we arrive at something that resonates widely by being rooted in place.

      1. Francois – I circulated your Light Ships post to the members of Waveney & Blyth Arts who are also concerned with arts projects that celebrate place and I noticed that Tessa Newcomb, who is a visual artist of some note, has replied. Good luck with the project, Jan

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