After freeing a swan pedalo from Hastings dock and naming her Edith, writer Iain Sinclair (Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire) and director Andrew Kötting set off on a journey that takes them from the windswept coast of Hastings to the inner circle of the Olympic Games in Hackney. A strangely dark and mysterious tale this documentary looks at their journey, the difficulties they face, the stories they happen upon and, most importantly, their insistent rigmarole against the plight of the Games. Taking four weeks to complete they made their way through 84 litres of water, two bottles of whisky, four bottles of wine and 24 cans of Special Brew as they found their way through the unforgiving English countryside.
An intense, eye-opening yet overly comical expedition you will soon be lost in Swandown’s marathon voyage. We talk to Andrew Kötting to find out more.
Swandown is a fairly playful expedition. What made you decide to do this?
The ridiculousness of the ambition always had a hold on me.
Swandown comments on the negative impact of the Olympics on both London and our society overall. Iain has been a vocal adversary to the 2012 games, particularly in his most recent book Ghost Milk. What effect do you think the games will have on our city?
They will bring nothing but misery and mayhem to the moaners and malcontents that festoon the high-ways and low-ways of this our green and burgeoning land.
The general overtone of this film is not exactly positive. Did you actually enjoy the experience?
I'd like to think that the film transcends any particular negative polemic around the Olympics and ultimately becomes a celebration of difference and the absurd. Dada and at times, even a little bonkers. The experience I had was enlightening - corporeal, physical and existential - with Sinclair on the bridge and me in the engine room.
In Swandown your big swan is called Edith and your little one Sitwell. Edith Sitwell. Why this poet?
She was inspiring and wagged a little strangely modern. If photographed from the right angle she also looked a little like a swan.
Does your use of a swan have any connection to the Queen and her jubilee year or is this just a happy coincidence?
Happenstance, although the Queen's swanuppers have always played a huge part in my life and dining on her swan meat has become an annual though somewhat clandestine delight.
Iain has been a resident of Hackney for over 40 years now. I used to live there myself and loved it. Why do you feel it still gets so much stick as a borough?
Because it's not in South London.
What obstacles did you have to overcome whilst on this journey?
Wettings and wind.
Do you have any more great expeditions planned for the future? I know you are both partial to them.
I hope to swim from Hastings to Lands End at some point whilst Iain tracks me along the edge lands carrying a thermos and a bag full of dry clothes.
Swandown is out in selected cinemas from this Friday 20th July. For more information visit the website
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