Artist arrives in Leeds after six-year canal journey from Liverpool

Ben Cummins on board his floating shed at Oddy Locks  on the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Leeds.
Ben Cummins on board his floating shed at Oddy Locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Leeds.
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A FORMER university lecturer has arrived in Leeds after spending six years pulling his ‘Piano Raft’ makeshift home along the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Multimedia artist Ben Cummins set off from Liverpool in August 2012 with a rope around his waist tied to an eight-foot long raft with a shed on top.

Ben Cummins on board his floating shed at Oddy Locks  on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Leeds.

Ben Cummins on board his floating shed at Oddy Locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Leeds.

Mr Cummins, a former arts lecturer at the University of Brighton, has been using scrap materials he has found along the way to enlarge his unique floating home, which is now 40ft long.

He entered the Piano Raft in the Cuprinol 2018 Shed Of The Year competition in the ‘unexpected’ category.

And it has made the final 24 in the contest, which attracted 3,000 entries.

His original mission was conceived as an art project to deliver a battered old piano by canal to London.

Ben Cummins on board his floating shed at Oddy Locks  on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Leeds.

Ben Cummins on board his floating shed at Oddy Locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Leeds.

But Mr Cummins is in no hurry and there is little chance of him missing the 25-year deadline he has set.

Mr Cummins has arrived in Leeds and plans to spend a year at Oddy Locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal near Armley.

He will be hosting a series of art and ecological workshops on his raft, where he will be inviting people to take part in yoga, drawing and mushroom cultivation.

Mr Cummins, who has travelled 127 miles from Liverpool in six years, said he has used everything from discarded domestic furniture to old window frames to create his raft.

Ben Cummins'  floating shed at Oddy Locks  on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Leeds.

Ben Cummins' floating shed at Oddy Locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Leeds.

He said: “I wanted to explore England very slowly. Travelling on a boat without an engine is an entirely different way of perceiving the countryside.

“It has been a real experience and I have met a lot of interesting people along the way.

“I intend to settle here at Oddy Locks for a year and set up a floating centre of excellence providing workshops for the community.”

Mr Cummins said his unusual craft has attracted lots of attention over the years on the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

He said: “Some people are completely gobsmacked. They can’t believe what the are seeing. It triggers a lot of people’s imaginations - they want to be involved and come and have a look on board.”

Voting in the 2018 Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition at www.readersheds.co.uk closes at 9am on Tuesday August 28.