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

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