Saharan Adventure

Inside Out  · North West  ·  Monday January 16, 2006

When a group of carpentry students from Manchester were offered the trip of a lifetime, they jumped at the chance.

They were asked by one of the world’s top contemporary artists to travel to the Saharan desert to build a replica of an ancient Egyptian ship.

Inside Out joins them on their amazing African adventure.

Saharan desert

A group of Mancunian teenagers are in Siwa – a remote Egyptian oasis in the Sahara desert – close to the Libyan border. It’s a long way from inner city Manchester.

The students have been invited to build a ship in the town which has no tradition of sailing – despite being surrounded by salt water lakes.

Although no vessel has ever sailed on this tiny stretch of water, gallery owner Michael Hue Williams wants to build a boat here.

But it will be made from bamboo and reeds and created purely in the name of art.

Carpenty challenge

Dave Harold teaches carpentry at Manchester College of Arts and Technology – known as MANCAT.

He’s been working on the ship for two weeks with the help of his son and a team of carpentry students.

The ship has been designed by Russia’s most influential artist – Ilya Kabakov.

He wants the youngsters who will work on the project to make a connection with ancient Egypt.

Dave has worked with him before. “I like a challenge,” he says, aware of the enormity of the task ahead.

The team has been successfully working on the project with locals from Siwa, despite the language barrier.

The artist – who is a perfectionist – is due to arrive any day.

In the meantime he’s set them a deadline the boat must be finished in five days time.

Critics and collectors from around the world will fly in to see the work of art for one night only.

But can they make the tight deadline?