The Hudson River Project



Why Hole & Corner collaborator James Bowthorpe is up a big creek with a homemade paddle…



James Bowthorpe is quite a man. He once held the world record for cycling around the world (175 days since you ask, smashing the previous record by an amazing 19 days). On the way, he was nearly run off the road in Iran and pelted with kebabs in Australia, but he met every obstacle with the same placid charm.

A Contributing Editor to Hole & Corner (simply because he’s such an endlessly fascinating person that we had to have him involved in some way), Bowthorpe is also the man behind Non Plus – a high-spec flatpack furniture range – and numerous film and art projects.

The latest on his list of endeavours is the Hudson River Project, in association with Tudor Watch, who have fittingly kitted him out with one of their North Flag timepieces, inspired by the watches supplied to the 1952 British North Greenland Expedition. The idea behind the project is a simple one: ‘Build a boat out of Manhattan’s waste, take it to the source of the Hudson River – Lake Tear of the Clouds, high in the Adirondack Mountains – and row the boat back to Manhattan.’

Bowthorpe is currently deep upstate in the middle of his quest – out of radio contact for interview purposes, but you can follow his journey live via his website, which features daily updates. Together with Will Robson-Scott, Bowthorpe will eventually produce a feature-length documentary of his exploits – featuring an exclusively commissioned soundtrack by Mogwai.

As for the obvious question – why is he doing it? There is a serious response: highlighting the need for greater sustainability in a world that favours the cheap and the throwaway. But there’s also the same glib answer that George Mallory gave when asked about his ascent of Everest: ‘Because it’s there’. And because, unlike most people, because James Bowthorpe can.