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‘I Am a Rower’ exhibition on tour at the River and Rowing Museum



The Lea R.C. has long been energetic in its drive to diversify our sport and open it up to people who might not have initially thought it was for them. As a result of initiatives such as I Belong, it has been recognised widely for this work, most recently as Club of the Year in 2022.

 

This commitment to increasing access to rowing was also the key factor in the Lea R.C. being asked to contribute to National Sporting Heritage Day in September 2022, the theme for that year being ‘celebrating diversity’.

 

We wanted to open up and challenge the idea of ‘who’ a rower is and to do so we created an installation of photographs and stories showcasing the many routes into rowing as well as the myriad benefits, motivations and aspirations of our rowers.

Photographic portraits in kit and in normal clothes were taken by Chris Baker and displayed alongside written and audio stories created by journalist and Women’s Club Squad member Anna Melville-James.

 

Showing that rowers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, ethnicities, sexualities, goals, and backgrounds is a key way in which we can help more people to see themselves as potential rowers in waiting and further help to diversify the sport.

 


After a successful and very well-attended private view at the club, which included Cabinet Member Caroline Woodley, Delroy Peters from the Canal and River Trust, Club members and their friends and families - and two more showings in the Lea clubhouse alongside club events, the exhibition moved to the Henley River and Rowing Museum in 2023.

 

Transported by members from the Women’s Club Squad on the club truck, the plinths and photos were relocated into the Community Gallery under the direction of Cate Tren and museum director Steve O’Connor for a six-week exhibition run.



Soon after the exhibition opened, it was visited by triple Olympic medalist Greg Searle MBE. “It was lovely to visit the River and Rowing museum and enjoy the ‘I Am a Rower’ exhibition. I say ‘enjoy’ because it was far more than looking at the images and reading the stories,” he said.

 

“It was very special, and innovative, to be able to listen to each rower’s unique story in their own words by using the QR code. The stories powerfully demonstrate how rowing is reaching a wider community and giving more people the opportunity to enjoy the sense of freedom, challenge and team spirit that is fundamental to our sport.”

 

The exhibition can now be viewed online.

 

The exhibition was made possible by generous donations from National Sporting Heritage, Canal and River Trust, KPMT, Lea Rowing Club and personal donations from the curators.

 

I Am a Rower was curated by Club members Sara Cinamon, Anna Melville-James and Lindsey Segall, plinths made by Alex Wildy, online exhibition designed by Nicky Barneby. Thank you to all the club members who helped move the plinths for all the exhibitions.



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