Monday, June 27, 2022

Summer Solstice Walk 2022

 As part of his '52 More' walking project, Blake Morris invited people to walk on the summer solstice, Tuesday 21st June at whatever time was convenient. 

The walking 'score' for the day was created by Melanie Mowinski and participants were invited to interpret the contents of the score as they walked their chosen route at their chosen time. The way these scores can be interpreted in a multitude of ways has fascinated me since I began following and creating them. 

My chosen route on this occasion was a short section of the Leeds - Liverpool Canal, beginning at Granary Wharf, walking west toward Armley. 

To engage with this activity, try to match up some of the lines in the score with what was observed in the images below. What did you notice?

The walking score created by Melanie Mowinski

The final lock gate that opens onto the River Aire

The basin at Granary Wharf, looking towards the final lock gates

Way-marker on the Desmond Family Canoe Trail

Emerging from under the rail track viaduct

Looking back under the main rail tracks entering Leeds Station

Grafitti decorated wall separates the rail tracks from the canal

Four routes line up: The rail tracks, the canal, 
the tow path and the River Aire on the left

Passing under the Monk Bridge Viaduct that once 
carried trains into the old Leeds Central Station 

Sid and Nancy with their six cygnets, 
local celebrities now thanks to Facebook 

Approaching St. Ann Ings Lock Gates

Moorhen family raising their five chicks by the tow path

Beautiful wild teasels, with fully-spent flower heads


Gorgeous wooden posts along the tow path

I bet the birds love these berries

Portage this way, don't forget your two-person canoe

Next to the new, there is the old attempting to retain dignity. 
Let's hope it survives

On our return to Granary Square, 
a female mallard duck challenges us to a race

Back at the bridge next to lock no. 2, 
bathed in the lovely afternoon sunshine

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Walkbook

 Thursday 19th May 2022 marked the launch of The Walkbook - a book of 'recipes for walking and wellbeing'. The book of recipes was launched on the second day of the #WalkCreate Gathering - a '2-day event in London and online on the 18th and 19th May 2022, which shared and celebrated the use of creative walking to enhance wellbeing'.

30 artists from across the UK were commissioned to create and contribute 'recipes' that addressed one or more of the following research challenges:

Walks for inclement weather / walks when there's nowhere to walk / Walks when you are bored of walking / walks when you are bored of walking the same route / walks when you are shielding / walks when you cannot walk very far / walks when you are anxious / walks when you don't have much time / walks when you can't be bothered / walks for inspiration / walks as an act of self-care / walks for a social bubble / walks for the physically distanced but socially connected / walks to make others smile / walks for the isolated / walks for the lonely / walks for busy people / walks for escape / walks for winter / walks in the rain / walks when it is dark / walks for indoors / walks with children, babies and/or teenagers / walks to work something out / walks in a place you feel uncomfortable or out of place / walks of welcome / walks for all the senses / walks to read your environment / walks to know your environment / walks to combat fear / walks to build your confidence / walks to manage pain / walks to expose obstacles / walks to bridge communities / walks to acknowledge slower pace / walks to start a revolution...

The organisers also stated "we recognise that 'walking' refers to a diverse range of approaches and needs. While not all recipes may be suitable for everyone, our aim is that the majority will be".

The front cover of the The Walkbook

The #WalkCreate Gathering

Nina and I worked on a recipe for the book and we identified our chosen challenge as relating to 'walks to know your environment'. Our aim was to create a series of questions posed to the reader/walker that could hopefully stimulate a better awareness and understanding of the environment. It was therefore necessary to create a recipe that did not specify a particular type of environment too clearly, aiming for an adaptable text that could be adapted to a variety of locations, places and spaces.

Besides the textual triggers, or provocations, we also devoted time to the visual layout of the recipe. We felt that the visual nature of the recipe and how the text is received by the reader is crucial to the creation of the relevant approach to the walk. We imagined each walk beginning at an entrance or gateway and later ending at roughly the same place. This meant the layout of the questions would be arranged in a circular pattern to suggest the cyclical quality of the walk. 

Each block of text was placed within a hexagon. This decision was deliberate and referenced classic board layouts used in games of strategy. These were all physically linked to emphasise how each question/experience blended into the next. Graphic arrows were placed in order to emphasise the link between one hexagon and the next. The order of the hexagons was arranged clockwise from the bottom of the page, to mirror the layout on many classic board games. 
The arrows were also created in green, in contrast to the blocks of text, to add a sense of depth to the composition and to focus attention onto the text. Small, colourful icons were also placed at intervals around the page to add a ludic sense of fun that we hoped the reader/walker would experience.

Below is the final artwork as submitted to the editors:

'A Walk to Know Your Environment' - Final Artwork

After waiting eagerly for the launch of the The Walkbook, we were so happy to receive the launched publication as an online pdf. At first we didn't recognise our contribution until we matched up the published text to the one we had created. 
Unfortunately, all of the visual elements we had considered, developed, modified and incorporated had disappeared and overall, the recipe now seemed quite sparse and minimal. 

The references to board games and the integrated game mechanisms that we hoped to suggest, had all disappeared. This was initially very disappointing but on reflection we are incredibly pleased to be included in the The Walkbook and we would love to hear from anyone who has tried out our recipe. 

Please let us know how it went and how the experience modified how you might now approach, experience and 'know' the environment in a new way.

Below is the artwork as published in The Walkbook:

Final recipe as published in The Walkbook

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

'A State of Matter' at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK

 The exhibition 'A State of Matter' runs from 18th Feb - 5th June 2022 at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, UK and is divided into three rooms that represent the three states of matter, solid, gas and liquid. 

The exhibition proceeds to demonstrates how glass can be explored in those three states via the utilisation of a range of techniques and processes. The exhibition also revives the argument surrounding glass as a material and on which side of the craft / art divide it lies. For me, there is no divide and I approach all works with the same attitude, seeking to allow the work to speak to me (or not) and then following that thread as I attempt to construct meaning.  

I have chosen a handful of examples from the exhibition to photograph here, though I would recommend the reader to visit the show themselves rather than relying on my selection of representative works.

Elliot Walker was the winner of the Netflix series 'Blown Away' and manipulates glass with ease. His work 'Spillage' suggests pop-art style graphic representations of still life, with an interesting commentary on the materiality of glass and its solid/liquid, almost contradictory, existence. In this still life, which elements are solid and which are liquid? He manages to represent and contrast both states with a single material.

Spillage, 2019 - Elliot Walker

Silvia Levenson's work dramatically embodies fragility, the fragility of childhood, the fragility of democracy, the fragility of freedom, the fragility of life itself.  Subtle drawings are encased within the object, like nostalgic dreams or memories, and the work lies protected within an acrylic box as though in an effort to prevent those dreams and aspirations from being shattered. 

Untitled, 2007 - Silvia Levenson

Since I saw a large exhibition of Mona Hatoum's work at the Tate Modern in 2016, I have been entranced by the poignancy and poetry of her work. I love the way she balances often unsettling combinations of materials in relationships that seem almost inevitable. In the piece presented at the Henry Moore Institute, we are presented with blown glass forms that suggest internal organs with their haemoglobin colour and which, on closer inspection, appear soft, lightweight, and delicate. These are locked in zinc-plated steel cages and the intense contrast between the soft globular forms and the rigid steel box triggers a feeling of discomfort and pain.

Cells, 2014 - Mona Hatoum

Czech artist Petr Stanicky combines a surreal biomorphic form with a car window, with the molten mirrored object appearing to take a bite from the car window and it this action that animates the arrangement and causes it to rise up from the plinth. Once again, we are reminded of the versatile nature of glass. The car window is familiar to us and therefore we read it as inert, while the biomorphic form takes on the appearance of a living form and we interpret the conjunction of the two objects as a 'bite' in order to make sense of the scene. 

Mirror-Mondeo Bite, 2014 - Petr Stanicky

As an art student in the late 1970s I was introduced to conceptual art by the work of Joseph Kosuth. His work introduced me to semiotics, and how we construct meaning from what we see, how we develop preconceptions, how we understand what we think we know and how these thought processes stimulate the interpretation of the world around us. I was pleased to see his work included in the show and his work was the first and the last I looked at when I visited the exhibition. It was a great way to 'book-end' my visit and my reflections on the work of the artists represented. Often we are so seduced by the work of talented creators as we marvel at the incredible virtuosity and skills on display, that we forget to ask the simple questions such as what am I actually looking at? what are the materials used? What associations do these materials have for me? How have these associations been reinforced or subverted by what I have seen here? 
As I left the building my head was full of questions about the work I had seen and what they suggest to me individually and collectively, and I couldn't ask more from an exhibition.

Any two metre square sheet of glass to lean against any wall, 1965
- Joseph Kosuth

Monday, March 21, 2022

'No holiday', Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

This recorded version of the performance 'No holiday' was conducted around Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake) in Hanoi, Vietnam on 7th April, 2021.

Although overcast, it was a lovely warm day for a walk around the small lake in Vietnam's capital.

I walked anti-clockwise around the lake, beginning at the southern end close to Trang Thi and continued strolling slowly along until I had almost completed one full circuit of the lake.  

The film concludes as I continue on my way along Lai Thai To. 

A video of the performance is embedded below or, alternatively, you can view it on my Youtube channel.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

'British Summer Time: Season 6'

On Thursday 17th March Nina and I participated remotely in season 6 of British Summer Time walks organised by Dr. Blake Morris.

Season 6 of British Summer Time - Sunrise Walks will be experienced between 12th and 27th March, 2022. The season 6 project page can be found here.

The last time we had participated in this particular series of walks was in 2019, Season 1 of British Summer Time, on Wednesday 6th November and the write-up for that event can be found here.

The listed time for dawn in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, UK was 06:10am and the three photos below were taken at the appointed times of 05:55am (15 minutes before sunrise), 06:10am (Sunrise) and 06:25am (15 minutes after sunrise).

As can be seen in the photos below, the sun wasn't visible until around 10-15 minutes after the official sunrise time due to a bank of low cloud over the North Sea. The morning was quite cool but as soon as the sun appeared it quickly made a difference to the temperature. We saw at least three rabbits out on the clifftops who, like us, appeared to be enjoying the morning sun.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Old Town to the Quay - Terminalia Festival 2022

Thankfully, this year's Terminalia Festival fell on a day that was blessed with bright sunshine, though the wind was still cool and sharp.

Previous walks on Terminalia have been: In 2019 a Saigon Citadel Walk and in 2020, a Saigon Canal Walk.

This one-day Festival of Psychogeography has been held every year on the 23rd of February since 2011 and brings together individuals and groups who mark the Festival of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.

Nina and I were in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, UK to celebrate Terminalia by walking from the The Old Town to the Quay, via the Priory Church and we started at the top of Market Place at 11:00am promptly.

Originally the Old Town and the Quay were two separate locations, with the Old Town (Burlington) being the main area with the Quay forming the local port. More recently the two have merged to become the modern town of Bridlington.

A view through Westgate Park to The Avenue

Intriguingly named road

The official start of the walk

A view looking down Market Place in the Old Town, 
Burlington as it used to be known

Pillory (replica), first placed placed here in 1636

Stocks (replica), originals also c.1636

Unintentional Christo-influenced installation

Southern Hemisphere, bathed in sunlight

Beautifully proportioned shop-fronts

(Virtual) Shop-keeper waiting for customers

Unintentional Morandi-influenced shop window-display

Bust of John Sawdon, Lord Mayor of Bridlington 1905-08
Disused drinking fountain

Bayle Gate, original gateway to the Priory.

The Church Green, Priory Church beyond

Remains of the old fencing around the Church Green

Christmas decorations, surviving into February

St. John's Burlington, Grade II listed Methodist Church

Surviving Cast-Iron Canopy on Quay Road

The arrival / departure of the train on the single line 
temporarily separates the Quay from the Old Town

Bridlington Centotaph

Repaired shrapnel damage from the Second World War

Even in February it is easy to find a bucket and spade for the beach

Plenty of multi-coloured sugar available

Modest monument to T. E. Lawrence,
unfortunately the gnomon is now missing

The Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club HQ appears ready to set sail

A view of the harbour with 'The Anchorman', 2015 
keeping watch (Sculpture by Ronald Falck)

This year's walk for Terminalia 2022 has been very enjoyable and we were very lucky with the weather. Who knows where next year's walk will be? We look forward to it.