The Batela Project began as a small impulse. In 2013 Clare asked her father Mike if he would like to build a boat with her (thinking maybe a small dinghy).

The project became a focal point for discussions between Clare and Mike- a meeting ground for conversations about family, heritage, culture and art making. In the days of the Batela their ancestors lived in the Venetian Empire. The Batela is an ancient Venetian vessel. The Batela Project explored the possibility of transposing this ancient boat into a modern Australian context with the aim of creating networks and relationships that will help us to understand more about the contemporary and traditional significance of Australian waterways. 

Master Boat Builder Mathias Luehman has been living and working in Venice since 2002. Since that time, he has worked making traditional wooden boats with a specialisation in the construction of traditional Venetian boats. Mathais managed the carpentry workshop at  “Vento di Venezia”, Certosa Island, Venicefrom 2007 – 2012. Since October 2012 running own business as master boat builder in Venice.

Mathais, Clare and Mike attended the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart in 2017 to research the feasibility of constructing an Australian Batela.  Matthais was hosted by festival co-founder Andy Gamlin. The research behind The Batela Project propelled Clare into her PhD research A Week on the Cooks River where Clare is using a small boat and the physical experience of rowing on the the Cooks River to understand more about a neglected Sydney waterway and Australian history and culture.

Developed as part of Salamanca Arts Centre’s HyPe program, assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, Hobart City Council, and Arts Tasmania and through a residency at Bundanon Artists Trust