Saturday, November 9, 2019

'All Animals are Equal #2' - A.Farm, Saigon

On Saturday 2nd November A.Farm held it's second artist extravaganza entitled 'All Animals are Equal #2' out in District 12 of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

In the main building there was an exhibition of work by artists who have been part of the residence project, collectively showing the results of their investigations. The rest of the A. Farm complex was opened up to local artists to showcase their work both indoors and outdoors.

I submitted two of my filmed performances to be included in the collective artist film screening that took place during the day.
After discussion with the organisers the two chosen films presented my performance 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back' that had been filmed in East Yorkshire, UK and District 7 in Ho Chi. Minh City respectively.

Unfortunately I could not attend the event in person as I had previously arranged to be in Hanoi for the opening of the Vietnam Festival of Media and Design: Hanoi 2019. However, it was a great opportunity for me to show my work locally for the first time since moving here in May 2018. I really hope there will be more opportunities in the future.


'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back', Sewerby Steps, Bridlington, UK




'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back', District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

'British Summer Time: Sunrise Walk 7'

On Saturday 26th October, I had the good fortune to take part in another distance walk organised by Dr. Blake Morris who is currently based in the UK.

Blake initiated the series of walks (entitled British Summer Time) in response to the approaching change of clocks in the UK and how activity experienced each day at the same time undergoes an immediate and dramatic change as the clocks suddenly change back to Greenwich Mean Time (UTC).

The walk for us in Vietnam allowed us to experience the sunrise in Saigon, which was scheduled for 05:43am. I took photographs 15 minutes before sunrise (05:28 am), at the time of the sunrise (05:43 am) and then 15 minutes after sunrise (05:58 am). Of course, there is no daylight saving arrangement in place and the sunrise / sunset does not fluctuate very much throughout the year here.

Blake walked in the UK, in the vicinity of Northampton while other participants walked in a variety of locations.
On 26th October walkers strode out in the early morning in Northampton, Cork, St. Ives and Bournville. Due to the time difference, in Saigon, we walked out 6 hours ahead of everyone else and experienced a wonderful walk. The usual bustling city, verging on the chaotic, was slowly awakening. The environment was therefore much quieter than usual, with far fewer people out on the street. The air was also less humid.
A few meters from where we walked, bats and swallows competed for insects above the local river and as we continued along the road, watching the sunrise, the latter gradually replaced the former.

This was another great opportunity to see our surroundings from a new perspective, a very enjoyable walk.






Tuesday, October 29, 2019

'No holiday', Birrarung Marr, Melbourne, Australia

This is the second recorded walk I made during my recent visit to Australia, beginning in Melbourne with me exiting the Flinders Street Railway Station, crossing the road close to St. Paul's Cathedral and then across to Federation Square.

From Federation Square I walked along the Yarra Riverbank to Birrarung Marr where I discovered the large outdoor sculpture 'Angel' by Deborah Halpern standing alone in the midday sun. Not far away, up some steps I found the intriguing Federation Bells, which play music at intervals during the day.

Walking on the William Barak Bridge I made my way toward the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere.  In 2005 this bridge was enhanced by the addition of the permanent sound installation 'Proximities', created by Sonia Leber and David Chesworth, that features a welcome song sung in Woiwurrung by Wurundjeri Elder Joy Murphy Wandin, who is a descendent of William Barak. The installation also broadcasts the voices of people representing people of the 53 commonwealth countries now living in Australia.

The first thing I saw when I arrived at the cricket ground was the statue of Dennis Lillee - the legendary Australian fast bowler. I remember this amazing cricket player terrorising batsmen during Ashes matches when I was a youngster at school in the UK. There are further statues of Australian cricketing legends around the exterior of the ground.

The film concludes as I continue on my way crossing Yarra Park.



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back' - 28.9.2019

During my research into the cityscape of Sydney prior to my recent visit looking for suitable locations for walking, filming or other activities, I discovered a very interesting set of steps close to Sydney Harbour Bridge. Later, when I arrived at the foot of the steps, I immediately felt that I had made an excellent choice.

The steps were built during 1912-14 and formed part of the redevelopment of the area which included construction of the wharves at Walsh Bay, a layout of new roads, and the steps themselves (named after civil engineer Robert Hickson, the first president of the Sydney Harbour Trust).

The steps (which formed part of the route from Hickson Road to the Harbour Bridge walkway deck) had so much character I was drawn to responding to them in some way and the natural way for me seemed to be in enacting a new version of my performance 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back'.

The individual details of this performance are always governed by the specifics of each particular location and in this instance I stayed close to the right hand side (when facing uphill). This allowed me to employ the beautiful and powerful wall as a backdrop and also enabled the use of the handrail. The central rail and cast iron fence that ran down the opposite side of the steps contrasted nicely with the sandstone steps.



Sunday, October 20, 2019

'No holiday', Farm Cove, Sydney, Australia

Last month I had the great fortune to be able to visit Australia and what was even more fortunate was that during my visit I had enough time to contemplate creating three new performative works. One of them was a 'step' piece, which I shall post about soon, while the other two became episodes of the 'No holiday' saga.

The first walk, in Sydney, was particularly enjoyable for me. Since being a child I had been familiar with the landmarks in this beautiful city for example, the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the stunning harbour itself and wondered if I would ever actually see them. To finally gaze upon these sights with my own eyes, feel the wind on my face and take in the full scope of the landscape as I moved through the city was indeed a realisation of these, once fanciful, memories.

The route I finally decided upon for my walk began at Mrs. Macquarie's Point, which is more correctly known as Yurong Point by the indigenous Gadigal inhabitants. Here, in 1810, was a large seat or bench hand carved by convicts for the benefit of Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of major General Lachlan Macquarie, governor of New South Wales.

From there I walked around Farm Cove, which forms the coastline of the Royal Botanic Gardens. originally known as Woccanmagully, it was the site of a farm to sustain Government House and the first Governor, Arthur Phillip.

The filming ceased close to the iconic Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon.  
I gazed across Sydney Cove to 'The Rocks' before continuing towards Circular Quay and it was at this point that the current film ends.

Details of the second walk will be posted soon.




Saturday, September 14, 2019

10th International Conference on The Image

For the 10th International Conference on The Image, this year held at the Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK on 5-6th September, I decided to submit a conference poster for inclusion.

Being preoccupied by performative walking in recent years, I thought it would be good to compile a collection of working methods that could be engaged in and at the same time to present examples of these methods that I had personally experienced.

I titled my poster 'Strategies for Performative Walks', created in collaboration with Nina, Yiu Lai Lei (with whom I have collaborated on several recent projects) and set out to present these strategies. To fully illustrate each method I presented a representative image, short description and a QR code that would direct people to a more in-depth blog post. 

The strategies I outlined were as follows: a) Photography, b) Videography, c) Live-stream Broadcast, d) Sound recording, e) Social Media posts and f) Colour Collection.

The strategies were introduced in isolation but, of course, they could be combined to create multi-faceted projects. 

The abstract for the poster read as follows: 

Walking can be thought of as a medium just like painting, printmaking or sculpture so the crucial question is: What happens once the walk commences? There would usually be a strategy employed when approaching the walk unless the plan is to deliberately dispense with strategies. The strategy can involve observations and responses to the location the walk takes place within or, alternatively, can relate to discussions with fellow walkers or even communication with other participants walking simultaneously in remote locations. Thesis communications, along with observations of the locale, can be transmitted and/or recorded to form an archive or even the basis for a future, related piece of work. This poster outlines six strategies for approaching performative walks.


Conference banner


Conference Poster

Sunday, September 8, 2019

4th World Congress of Psychogeography, 2019

The 4th World Congress of Psychogeography was held on the first weekend in September 2019 at the following venues in West Yorkshire: Huddersfield on Friday 6th, Dewsbury on Saturday 7th and Marsden on Sunday 8th.

I have never classed myself as a true psychogeographer but it has occurred to me that many of the activities associated with psychogeography do have connections to the methods I have been drawn to in my performance work and, with walking as a primary element in my work, it seems to be the closest approach that has been defined as an area of study.

With this in mind I have been actively seeking opportunities for me to present my work whenever such appropriate opportunities arise. The Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography was immediately attractive to me for a couple of reasons. First, the venues were located in my home county of Yorkshire in the UK, and secondly I noticed that a number of notable figures within the field of psychogeography were either presenting work or initiating events and activities.

I secured a time-slot between 12:00-12:30pm on Friday 6th September to present a live-stream performance to an assembled audience of around 60 people who had gathered in the Oastler Building of Huddersfield University. This was an opportunity for me to enact a new episode of my on-going saga 'No holiday', this time conducted in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam, on the wide 'walking street' Nguyễn Huệ.

Originally the Kinh Lon canal that allowed goods to be brought from the Saigon River, into the heart of the city, it was renamed the Charter Canal from around 1861. The canal was subsequently filled in in 1887 and turned into a boulevard in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The boulevard grew increasingly busy until April 2015, when it was converted into a pedestrian street.

An introduction was made to the assembled audience at Huddersfield University before the live-stream broadcast commenced and I began my walk.

Beginning at 6:00pm (Vietnam time) my walk took me down the northwestern edge of the street, walking towards the river until I reached the busy Đường Tôn Đức Thắng road at which point I turned and made my way up the centre of Nguyễn Huệ, past the joggers, the students, young couples, hawkers, tourists and street performers.

During the walk dusk arrived and the lighting on the street changed dramatically. Early in the walk it began raining but luckily despite the forecast of heavy rain, it lifted and allowed me to continue walking unencumbered by the umbrella.

The performance went well and, according to the organisers, was well received back in the UK. I always hope that audiences can relax, suspend their expectations and enjoy the meditative walk with me, wherever I happen to be in the world.

It was a great honour for me to be a participant of the Congress and I thank the organisers for allowing me to showcase my work in this way.

The Congress website can be found here.

The full conference programme can be viewed here.

A recording of the live-stream performance can be viewed here on my YouTube Channel.

A full playlist of 'No holiday' performances can be viewed here.

One-page Congress Programme


Recording of live-stream performance