Monday, 18 September 2017

A  photo diary with some words about our walk for Brexitopia at Espacio Gallery. 

Walking in The Footsteps of the Huguenots                                                           

This walk was sort of planned with wandering in mind, we allowed ourselves to get lost. I had fixed points which we aimed to walk towards. 

Brexitopia and The Refugee Tales

When the opportunity arose to do something for The Republic of Brexitopia exhibition at Espacio I was elated. 

Those of you who know me well and are aware of my back ground know that I come from a family of migrants. For someone from my part of the world, where you are from is complex to say the least, but so is it for many people here in the UK.

Our reference to the Huguenots was to put our walk and geographical location (using psychogeography, if you like) to contextualise, refugees, asylum seekers and the need for safety as a human right

We Started outside Espacio , reading the
prologue from Refugee Tales II:

We hold this truth
To be Self-evident
That a person
Who has a story
Requires space -
To start
We set this out
A simple requirement
In language
That in justice
As it is told
A person's story                         In our stride.
Be accorded
Its place..........."

and so to The weavers fields, where we wandered and took it in turns to read from Cecilia Vicuña's poem "Impossible Weaving".


We used the poem and the connection with Weavers fields to reflect in particular on the role the Huguenots, who sought refuge in this country, played in the development of textiles in the  surrounding area.

The walk was conducted in a spirit of collaboration. Both Simon and Sandy, who had never met before this walk, told us that they were related to the Huguenots. 

 I had read  somewhere that 1 in 6 people in the UK are related to the Huguenots. 

Then... it rained!
and on to The Nomadic garden

With stunning explanations and  contributions by Travis and Simon about the street art that we encountered on our route.

It was indeed a privilege to have you with us!


The Nomadic Garden
At the Nomadic Garden we had a great welcome, sharing poetry readings from Cecilia Vicuna, excerpts from Refugee Tales II and personal anecdotes about our experiences of being outsiders.

a bit more rain as we left......loving the palm tree below!

and ... on to Shoredtich
High Street with Simon pointing out iconic drawings which I had never noticed.

Ending with Carlos Varela's song: Walls and Doors 

And....yes we did knot ropes.....but more about this in my next blog about the #Tribe17 exhibition at The Oxo Bargehouse in October.

With thanks to :

                          Lisa Kreuziger
                          Simon Cole
                          Paul Wade
                          Sandy Wade
                          Travis Moore 
                          Carlos Lins (Director Espacio gallery) 
                          Ahmed Farooqui (Degrees of Freedom, curator of Brexitopia)
                          Esperanza Gomez - Carrera (Degrees of Freedom)
                          Lizzie Brown  (artist and gallery invigilator on the day)
                          David and Marianne (from Pavement Pounders Folkestone, who were 
                                                               thwarted by transport problems in their
                                                             attempt to join us! but were with us in spirit)

                          Anastasia Miller,  PHOTOGRAPHER,  for walking, interacting getting
                                                        soaked and... taking great photos!



Sunday, 10 September 2017

Walking in the Footsteps of The Huguenots

An artist led walk by Billie Penfold on Wednesday September 13th from 1-2 pm

From Espacio Gallery to the London Wall

Welcome back after the Summer break

This walk is part of the exhibition
The Republic of Brexitopia at Espacio Gallery
Curated by Degrees of Freedom

For the exhibition  I will be organising a reflective meandering walk from Espacio gallery on the Bethnall Green Rd.  in the direction of the City of London Wall.

During the walk we will explore the surrounding area  and we will stop for selected  readings to open a participative dialogue. The readings will connect with the history  of the Huguenots who sought asylum in Britain and outside the city walls where they were able to develop the weaving trade which to this day is an important part of the areas history.

The walk will hope to complement the work done by Refugee Tales

In July 2017, Refugee Tales walked from Runnymede to Westminster stopping at Walton, Kingston, Brentford and Hammersmith, calling for the practice of indefinite immigration detention to end. At every stop of the way leading writers helped tell the tales of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees, as well as the stories of those who work with them. As the project walks it creates a space in which the language of welcome is the prevailing discourse, a political carnival in which the act of listening is a common resource.

Fore more about: http://refugeetales.org

I also want to weave the lyrics of the song by Carlos Varela ,’ Muros y Puertas’ (Walls and Doors) into the fabric of this walk and include some of the text from the poem ‘Impossible Weaving’ by Cecilia Vicuña which stresses the importance of making and creativity as a way of living a fulfilling life.

During the walk we will use mnemonics to document our thoughts through knots on ropes. I have been busy in my studio  making the ropes for each walker.

We will stop at intervals along the route for a drink and a chat during which we will undo the knots and share our thoughts with fellow walkers. The walk will be conducted in a spirit of collaboration and all walkers are invited  to participate with me in this process.

The walk is free but ticketed as there is a limit on numbers.
Looking forward too walking, talking and sharing with you.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

A photo diary with information about developments for Walking with the Waste Land at the Margate Bookie 2017.

Walking with the Waste Land is a community group which is part of a wider project at the Turner Contemporary exploring visual connections with TS Eliot's poem for an exhibition opening in February 2018, Journeys with The Waste Land. http://wasteland.onsocialengine.com/new

The Walking Group has spent much of the last three years exploring TS Eliot's poem The Waste Land and developing connections to the poem with sites in Margate where much of this seminal poem was written.

As the Research Group finalises the selection process and design for the exhibition the idea behind this particular walk has been to introduce six selected artworks to fellow walkers without them being able to see the work. We will use chosen sites in Margate, readings from the poem and our own personal connections  to introduce the work. Through this process we hope to share some of our experiences working on the project and how we approached the selection of the art work.

The event on August 19th which has been included in the Margate Bookie program http://margatebookie.com/about-us/ , will be followed by a viewing of slides of the six chosen artworks described during the walk, and a discussion led by Dr Richard Turney at the Turner Contemporary in Margate.

On Wednesday July 26th, we explored and developed our thinking further the best way we know how, through walking.

What follows is a photo diary with some reflections from last Wednesday..

  Margaret Hall sets us on our way, reading a selected extract from The Waste Land
As I reflect on last Wednesday, which I suggested as a way to test out ideas that have been formulated over the last few months, it struck me that it was difficult to describe this  as a trial run or experiment. The walk itself was so rich in contributions and discussion that  it reminded me that each walk is unique and you cannot replicate a walk.

 Each project that we have undertaken with Walking with the Waste Land takes on it's own momentum and develops from the contributions brought by those participating on it. This one was no exception.

For more about Walking with The Waste Land  http://wasteland.onsocialengine.com/categories/23679/walking-group

I have sometimes described these walks as walking encounters

On Wednesday the group was joined by:

Andreas Loizou the founder and organiser of the Margate Bookie,

Mirka Kotulicova a Gallery Assistant  at the Horsebridge Art and Community Centre in Whitstable.

 and Simon from Half Day Holidays https://halfdayholidays.com

The initial idea was that they would be 'guests' who would contribute feedback to our core contributors who bring their creativity and performances, with associated readings to the walks.

 I now feel hesitant to describe them as guests as I feel that they together with the Walking with the Waste Land group really created a wonderful walk which I will always remember.  

I am often worried that the walks should not be over rehearsed as they are not about a performance, they are very much walking as research. Wednesday was no exception we did not follow the prescribed route, which was rather wonderful as the walking talking and reading led us in new directions.

A development from the discussions that followed has been that  Jackie Elson will join us on our August 19th walk which is included in the Margate Bookie listed Program. Jackie is part of the wider research group and also a gallery assistant at the Turner Contemporary. She will bring her own expertise as a Turner Contemporary navigator, to describe one of the more challenging abstract artworks chosen.

We will also have use of the wireless sound enhancement system on the day, provided courtesy of the Turner Contemporary, with thanks to research curator Trish Scott.

Our walk last Wednesday has set us on a wonderful path of discovery , with thanks to, Judy Dermott (writer and academic researcher) , Margaret Hall (artist, reader and geographer), Jennifer Deakin (Photographer)  and Trish Scott ( research curator for Journeys with the Waste Land).

I am looking forward to being a part of Margate Bookie on August 19th.

This event is free but ticketed on Eventbrite:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/margate-bookie-walking-with-the-waste-land-2017-tickets-35592846161?aff=ehomesaved

Monday, 17 July 2017

A walk in July 
A collaborative walk on July 12th with the Garden Gate Community Project and Walking with The Waste Land in Cliftonville, Margate.
A photo diary of a series of walks which we began in April. this is our fourth walk.

July seems to be the month for fruit and vegetables at the Garden Gate.

okra or ladies fingers
A pumpkin patch
Strange creatures

For our walk we took inspiration from ‘Precario’ (precarious) #ThreadandWord a walk in Edinburgh from Dundas street gallery to Inverleith house ( you can check this out in the previous blog entry:http://elspethpenfold.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/precario-1990-cecilia-vicuna-maximum.html

This multifaceted work addresses the pressing concerns of the modern world; ecological destruction, human rights and cultural homogenisation. Cecilia Vicuña's works often begin as poems, before transforming into images, films, songs, sculptures or collective performances - “hearing an ancient silence waiting to be heard”
Documenting the precarious nature of existence and the strength in fragility through our hand made ropes. 

At the start of our July  walk I suggested we use ropes to gather found sticks, flowers and leaves   while we walked. As always the inventiveness and creativity of my fellow walkers is wonderful. 

  For more about ropes and how these fit in  with the walks please visit:  

and so we walked;


Dahlias at North down Park House  

A lovely path through the woods for a wander.


A record of this our July walk. I hope you can join us next time for our walk on August 2nd at 2pm. 

Walking with ‘The Waste Land’ is a community group founded by artist Elspeth Penfold in 2014. The group use walking as a research tool for locating TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and selected other poems in Margate. The group works closely with Turner Contemporary’s Waste Land Research Group who are developing Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’, Turner Contemporary’s first major exhibition of 2018, which will be on show from 3rd February – 20th May 2018, focused on connections between Eliot’s poem and the visual arts.

Monday, 10 July 2017

'Precario' (1990) Cecilia Vicuña 

'maximum fragility' can work against 'maximum power' 

These words from artist Julia Riddiough  who provided us with a walking chakra for our fragile lives.

This gave us a wonderful start to our walk on Friday from Dundas Street Gallery to Inverleith house.

a quote from Julia's work :

'If you find you are at a crossroads and aren't sure which way to go , look to a gut feeling in your solar plexus for guidance. '

And so we begin

I have published the full text of all pieces mentioned in this blog on my website:


This walk is part of the Threads exhibition at Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh, curated by The Artist's Pool.

The exhibition brings together artists from varied creative practices, backgrounds, cultures
and countries to explore the threads that connect us through our experiences, humanity, gender, friendship and relationship.

The artist and printmaker Nicola Weir, made us some motifs to carry in our pockets. The process for this piece has been documented on our Facebook page Thread and Word https://www.facebook.com/ThreadandWord/ , a beautiful piece which echoes the power of fragility.

We were joined on our walk by the artist Naomi Garriock who soon got us started by helping to unravel the first ribbon to be read

There were 10 ribbons on spools with the words of the poem printed on them.
There were a total of ten ribbons

allocated randomly to walkers.

Jil Rock, Sprang , (March)

The ribbons are a development from the first Thread and Word Walk in Shoreditch last March, when the artist Jill Rock did a performance of ' Sprang'
using a gold ribbon.

Cecilia Vicuña is a Chilean artist whose art is a recurring influence in my work. I am from Bolivia and use weaving and rope making as a part of my art practice.

I make ropes for my fellow walkers and ask them to record their memory of the walk through knots in the ropes.
The ropes reference my cultural roots and the history I learnt as a child growing up in South America.

They also connect with ideas I have explored through research into Art, Sociology and Social Anthropology.

A sobering moment when we read ,

The Women came out at night Las Mujeres salieron a la noche,

Poem by Jaime Huenún,

With thanks to the curator Roberta Bacic

Over the bridge I suddenly spotted the Leith Walkway which was perfect , for:

 'Passing Through the Shadow of the Earth'

a poem offered to us for our walk by the  Ecopoet, Professor Jonathan Skinner.

For more about Jonathan: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/people/drjonathanskinner/

and as referenced in the poem,

.............. Heron..........,


As we approached the Arboretum Way Naomi Garriock set us some rope based tasks
For more about Naomi:http://instagram.com/garriockmountain

Followed by a few more readings of ribbons on our way to the Royal Botanical Gardens and Inverleith house.
Naomi then set us up for a team event in knotting ropes,
 it all got a bit competitive

and tangled.

Finally a reading of a paper written by the writer and academic Judy Dermott
' Vicuña and Women Centred Modernism'

I quote: 'Vicuna’s Modernism, twists, and jives, she connects us to mythic time   through her foremothers, who employing their bodies, weaved and plaited and told stories as they did so, gossiping, stitching and when language failed, using the alphabet of pattern and colour, collapsing time, and crucially healing the fracture between body and mind.'
(please check my website for the full transcript)

and so to tea and scones! Thank you all for making it so much fun.