The Boston Buoys Trail is a series of six stunning art installations re-purposing vintage navigational marine buoys.
The artworks, which were installed in 2021, celebrate Boston’s rich heritage and maritime connections, capturing our fascination with exploration across the world.
The mid-20th century buoys are imposing objects and come in fascinating shapes and styles, making them a stunning prospect to engage and capture the imagination of the artists, as demonstrated by the high level of interest in the commissions.
The Boston Buoys artworks aim to enhance pride in the town and attract more visitors to the area to experience and view this unique collection of distinctive artworks. We have appointed three experienced and inspirational artists.
Find out more about the six sculptures and the artists below:
Jo Chapman (Black Sluice) Lagan
This sculpture, overlooking the Haven, the Port of Boston and Boston’s flood barrier, reflects on Boston’s maritime history. The buoy is entwined with seaweed as though washed up on the tide, and features quotes from local resident’s stories of important journeys. The buoy is its original state, allowing the marks and dents to tell its history, reminding us of the journeys, storms and quiet moments of a lifetime.
The title, Lagan, is a maritime term for goods that are cast overboard and tied to a floating marker, such as a buoy.
This yellow buoy was called a special mark and was not primarily used for navigation but to mark areas of particular interest, such as anchorage areas, dredging disposal sites or military exercise areas. This buoy would have had a yellow St Andrews Cross steel top mark and was probably not lit.
Jo Chapman (Bus Station) Flotsam
Boston has a long history of travel across the seas and strong bonds with other countries. The town traded with cities across Northern Europe as far back as the 13th Century. With St Botolph’s in the background and not far from the marketplace, this artwork reflects on Boston’s international connections. Nestled in a seaweed cradle, the sculpture includes memories of personal journeys to and from Boston.
The title Flotsam refers to the maritime definition of goods floating on the surface of the water as the result of a wreck or an accident.
This was a safe water buoy, identified by its red and white top mark, which indicated that any vessel could safely pass on either side of the buoy. It would have been lit by a white light. The term ‘Boston Roads’ written on the side would have assisted mariners in knowing it was safe to anchor in the area.
Bex Simon (South Square) Windward Bloom
Inspired by the hugely successful volunteer group, Boston in Bloom, and their award-winning floral displays, blacksmith artist Bex Simon has turned two buoys upside down to create enormous vases for sculptural forged flowers on either side of the bridge. This buoy features plants that grow wild in the area, including cow parsley, rape seed pods and creeping jenny. The artist wanted to set the heavy, riveted sea-buoys against these delicate native plants.
This is a green starboard hand buoy, of riveted steel, dating to the 1930s or 40s. It has been used in various places throughout its life but always marking the starboard side of the channel when heading inwards towards Boston, in either the Lower Roads or the Freeman Channel. The buoy would have had a steel top mark and a green flashing light.
Bex Simon (South End) Leeward Bloom
Inspired by voluntary work of Boston in Bloom and their award-winning planting schemes; these two buoys have been turned upside-down to create vases for forged flowers, on either side of the bridge. This sculpture has been influenced by Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. These arrangements are sculptural and modern interpretations of flower arranging where minimalism is of the essence. It includes alliums, samphire, eucalyptus and creeping Jenny. Local residents and school children took part in blacksmithing sessions to create the eucalyptus leaves which feature in the artworks.
This is a red port-hand mark dating from the 1930s or 40s. It has been used to mark the port side of the channel when heading inwards towards Boston Harbour in either the Lower Roads or the Freeman Channel. The buoy would have had a steel top mark and a red flashing light for visibility.
Carrie Reichardt (St Botolph’s Footbridge) By Sea
Carrie Reichardt has created mosaics for two of the buoys on the trail, inspired by the mermaids from Boston’s historic coat of arms and the motto ‘By Sea and by Land’. This artwork, By Sea, features fish made by local people and schools, tattoo-like marine images, combined with stories from the Boston Standard and photographs and quotes from archives in the area. The artwork presents a different perspective on traditional history.
This is a red port-hand riveted buoy from the 1930s or 40s. Its colour and shape helped the mariner to know which side to safely pass. The buoy would have had a red top mark, made out of steel. This buoy marked a second channel, close to the coast off Wainfleet in Boston Deeps. It was not lit and therefore seen during the day, by ships signal lamps or later by radar.
Carrie Reichardt (Central Park) By Land
Carrie Reichardt has created mosaics for two of the buoys on the trail, referencing Boston’s historic coat of arms and the motto ‘By Sea and by Land’. This artwork celebrates the wealth of the area’s fertile land and the bounty of the harvest. Mosaics have been included from all over the world, alongside pieces made by local people. The images were inspired by heritage seed packets and old agricultural and flower advertisements.
The buoy sits within a spiral garden, designed by Jeni Cairns.
The buoy was originally a green, starboard hand marker. It would once have been situated in the Boston Deeps, off the coast near Friskney, marking the second channel. It was unlit but would have had a green conical top mark made of steel.
Transported lead the project, in partnership with Boston Borough Council, Boston Big Local, Boston in Bloom and the Environment Agency Boston Barrier Scheme.
Photos by Electric Egg, trail map designed by Laura Next Door.