Saturday, 18 August 2018

Slow Looking - Exploring the relationship between weaving, threading, walking and the landscape .

A long Walk to Nowhere, through Thread and Word 
part of the Whitstable Biennale Satellite programme 2018

A visual reflection on a walk for the Whitstable Biennale Satellite program with Thread and Word.

Thinking with Thread and Word


with thanks to Kate Monson and al who came, joined and contributed to a truly memorable walk.
Photography courtesy, Jennifer Deakin.

Join us on our next walk , Walking with Shrines at the Margate Bookie

Friday, 17 August 2018

A Walk with Thread and Word for The Margate Bookie September 2018 

An Invitation


 This is a walk as pilgrimage creating shrines for the Margate Bookie September 2018 by Thread and Word. Led by Elspeth Penfold
Drawing inspiration from Dee Heddonʼs Walking Library and the book Home Altars of New Mexico by Dana Salva. Thread and Word will take participants and walkers on a journey through poetry, walking, books, Margate and the passion and following that these engender. 
Elspeth Penfold will  create portable shrines to the books and the writing of four authors. At selected spots in Margate books will be introduced and then a small shrine will be built and marked with the placing of “Ofrendas” or offerings created by local artists and creative makers ( this might include a chosen reading/performance from the text). 
The walking shrines will be a symbolic act, celebrating Margate, and expressing our gratitude to The Margate Bookie, the Authors and their books for the difference they make to our lives. 
The authors are:

 Elise Valmorbida - The Madonna of The Mountains 
PJ Whitely - Marching on Together 
Jess Kidd - The Hoarder
Owen Lowery - who will be presenting a multimedia poetry show ʻTransitionsʼ 
Each of these authors has sent Elspeth artefacts, that have contributed to the writing of their  book. These artefacts include, objects, photos and music. The larger objects will be placed on a small portable altar behind a symbolic rudimentary rood screen where we might catch glimpses of the larger artefacts so that they act as relics which have prompted the pilgrimage, objects you might touch but which are at the same time unattainable. 
All contributors to this project are invited, if they wish, to make an ‘Ofrenda’ something that might fit in with the concept, and can be added to the altar as a personal response or offering. It does not have to be costly, the simpler the materials the better. The most important things are that it should be your personal response to the book or books or poems, if you fancy doing more than one, and also that it should be easy to place or carry. You might choose to do a performative reading.
I am hoping you can join the walk , but if this is difficult let me know and I will place your piece for you. 
I hope you have as much fun doing this as I am! please get in touch if you have any questions.

This walk is free but ticketed on Eventbrite linked below as there will be a limit on numbers. Please also visit eventbrite for more details including dates and times.




Sunday, 29 July 2018

Beyond The Pedestrian: Walking in Research, Theory, Practice and Performance.

26th July 2018 Dept of Geography and Planning, The University of Liverpool

I was delighted to have my abstract accepted for this conference  organised by Dr Morag Rose, who leads the wonderful loiterers resistance movement in Manchester.

Three of us presented work under the title , Walking Environments and Performance: 

Jess Allen, ArtistDrop in the ocean: on walking with water as eco-activist performance 

David Shannon and Sarah Truman, Manchester Metropolitan UniversityQueer the landscape: Walking-songing-researching from Melrose to Lindisfarne

Elspeth (Billie) Penfold, ArtistThread and word

 Here links to their work:

Jess Allen

David Shannon

 I gave an introduction to walking and Thread and Word and will be adding the copy of my talk to my website in due course.

With thanks to all who listened and knotted at the conference. Please see photo on the right. Great knots!

A Vara walking in Margate

 Your knots will be turned into a Vara recording the experience of meeting and talking to you at 'Beyond The Pedestrian'.

I also received another walking Library badge  (see above) from Professor Dee Heddon,  from her Walking Library for a Wild City with Alec Finlay. I have a knotted rope which will be added to the Vara archive together with the badge!

for more about The Walking Library for a Wild City , http://wildcityglasgow.blogspot.com

Keynote Speaker at Beyond the Pedestrianr: Professor Dee Heddon, University of Glasgow

Beyond The Pedestrian, with thanks to Morag Rose for organising an inspirational conference
A photo posted on twitter before the conference by Dee Heddon 

A one-day interdisciplinary event focused on walking research, practice and culture. Our definition of walking is welcoming to all kinds of bodies and includes orthotics, sticks, wheels and other assistive technologies. Subjects covered may include, but are not limited to:

Walking interviews and other pedestrian research tools
Creative walking, walking art and pedestrian performance
Past, present and future psychogeographies
Walking to critically engage with and understand our environment
Walking as a political, activist or community building tool
Ethical conflicts, barriers, issues and debates around walking research
Access, participation and the privilege of walking as choice
Research into, and around, pedestrian policy, planning and promotion
Walking across and between academic disciplines
Walking for leisure, education, health, tourism or exploration

I am now preparing for and looking forward to : 

 The upcoming 2018 Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography in Huddersfield in September, when I will be collaborating with Sonia Overall , Threading and Treading the Labyrinth http://4wcop.org/#eventsreading

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


A lovely film by the talented film maker Anna Bowman. With thanks to Peter Herbert and Jill Rock for curating the exhibition at The Arts Project, St Pancras Hospital.

The piece I exhibited is 'Unravelling', it is about by mother who died in December. She was diagnosed with dementia in 20013. The St Pancras Hospital was one of the first NHS hospitals to have a Memory Clinic and it seemed a very fitting tribute both to the hospital and my mum. It was wonderful to have my piece exhibited there with such a talented group of artists.

Without detracting from the wonderful film and exhibitors, the film is 28 minutes long and if you are short of time but would like to check out my piece, it comes in at 11.56 minutes.

As stated by Jill in the film the exhibition is meant to be positive and upliftting. I have spent over 42 years living in the UK, far away from my family and mother who lived in Uruguay. Although daunting it was quite a journey when she decided to come and live in the UK after my father died in 2009.  I am so glad we had that time together and although it was not easy we also managed to have quite a few laughs! This textile piece celebrates this time and I hope you enjoy it.

For more about the exhibition centre at St Pancras Hospital, and their present exhibition 'The Art of Caring :https://www.candi.nhs.uk/news/art-caring-exhibition

Friday, 1 June 2018

Some thoughts on walking, weaving and how we share stories.
Supporting the walk in July by The Refugee Tales :   http://refugeetales.org/book-for-refugee-tales-walk-2018/ 

An Introduction.

Each of the textile birds that will be displayed in my Tankerton studio on June 9th as a part of the Whitstable Biennale Satellite program has been made in a collaborative effort at several venues. The bird cutting and making  began in February of this year to  highlight the walk in July by The Refugee Tales and the campaign by the Gatwick Detainees Welfare group, #time4atimelimit.

The scope of the work includes printing material, making ropes, cutting birds, sewing and embroidering. From locations as wide as Edinburgh, Nottingham, Shepherds Bush, Putney, Tooting, Wandsworth, Whitstable, Broadstairs, Margate, Cliftonville, Wimbledon, Gatwick, Sussex and Canterbury. 

You can now join us at the Whitstable Satellite on June 9th from 1 pm to view a small exhibition of the work at my studio in Tankerton.  

If you wish, you can then take part in a rope making workshop followed by a walk. 
The workshop and the walk event are free but ticketed on eventbrite as numbers are limited : 

Through this photo diary, and by reflecting on some of the recent events over the last couple of weeks, I will attempt to explain how the walking, the weaving and the storytelling are interconnected.

Rope making at Hazelfest Wandsworth              
May 20th 2018 

Hazelfest is a community festival organised by The Work and Play Scrapstore  at the Hazelhurst Estate in Wandsworth. 

We made rope, celebrating all that binds us together through Thread and Word . 

This gave us the opportunity to meet each other and invite collaboration. As we made the rope , rope making as in most weaving takes a little time to set up, we talked.

We talked about the things that bind us together and in particular how we find strength in working together.


 It was also a useful tool to discuss and highlight the work by the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and their walk in July, RefugeeTales. This walk enables the accounts of  those who have experienced detention the UK to be heard through an annual walk over three days. In the evenings  Refugees are invited to share their tales. The project takes inspiration form ‘The Canterbury Tales. The Refugee Tales are published by Coma Press.   

For out project, the weaving of ropes allows us to explore combinations of different materials most of which have been donated. I feel this is important as they contain the memory of touch and have been passed from hand to hand.

The twines and threads we use  have their own memory as we find out by coiling the strands together. and watching the  furling and unfurling. 

Ropes and knots enable us to think about language and how emotions and memory are connected to ropes and knotting. We will for example ,sometimes refer to having a knot in our stomach to describe being nervous or tense.

As we weave these ropes we are also creating a textile language to share our stories.

A Workshop on May 22nd 
at The Work and Play Scrapstore 

The rope making at Hazelfest was followed by a workshop on Tuesday May 22nd at The Work and Play Scrapstore where the lovely volunteers spent time stitching birds and ,again, talking about the “Windrush”generation, the work of the Gatwick Detainee Welfare group and Refugee Tales.

We also took this opportunity to play with ideas of how to display the embroidered birds. One idea seen below is  to use the hand made ropes .

Our display takes its inspiration  from many sources including the book Stitching Resistance. 

I am finding weaving a useful tool to consider how we present our work and our stories. As a result I have decided to title this exhibition: Weaving Resistance.

The exhibition: Weaving Resistance
 Part of The Whitstable Biennale Satellite program,
 from 1 pm, on June 9th 66 Marine Parade Tankerton.                        

Tim Ingold in his book ‘Lines’ explains the connections between  weaving, and storytelling. 

“Just as the weaver’s shuttle moves back and forth as it lays down the weft, so the writer’s pen moves up and down, leaving a trail of ink behind it. But this trail, the letter-line, is no more the same as the line of text than is the line on a tapestry the same as the lines of its constituent threads. As with the woven tapestry, when we look for the text-line we do not find it. It exists neither as a visible trace nor as a thread. Rather, it emerges ... “  (Ingold 2007a: 69-70).

And so our stories are emerging slowly through talking and making to be shown at the the exhibition of works in my Tankerton Studio as part of The Whitstable Biennale Satellite Program.

The Walk  
June 9th 
3.18 pm, low tide, meet outside my Tankerton studio .

The walk we will be taking along the Estuary at low tide will follow on from the exhibition “Weaving Resistance”. It will  start at 3.18 pm, which is low tide, from outside my studio facing Tankerton Slopes. This walk also takes its inspiration from Tim Ingold . Our walk will be “wayfaring” rather than following a point from A to B we will drift, creating a meshwork of routes.

Before starting the walk we will be weaving ropes in my studio. These ropes will become part of our walk both as impediment and also as memory aids to record our thoughts through knots in the ropes as we walk . Through various obstacles which we will use to disrupt a linear trajectory we will explore displacement disorientation and the difficulties of negotiating a complex world.

 We will use different tools to create a challenging environment. One for example will be to take instructions designed for a different space and attempting to execute these in the liminal space left as the water recedes. We will also be playing with concepts of time, by using our own system devised for measuring the length of time we have been walking. 

With thanks to Rita Pagnoni Kate Monson Jennifer Deakin The Garden Gate Project Wandsworth Arts Fringe Putney Pantry The Work and Play Scrapstore #Hazelfest Janet Gilbert Nicola Weir Helen Read Maggy Rodd Cath Mattos Debbie Jackson Myra Vasdekys, Elainna Arkeool, and all who have participated and supported sewing, talking and rope making.

I’d also like to say  thank you for supporting me in raising awareness of the campaign by The Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and for  coming on this journey with me exploring the connections between weaving, walking and writing.

Looking forward to June the 9th.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Looking forward to Hazelfest on May 20th hope to see some of you there.

Thread and Word at The Wandsworth Arts Fringe 2018

Highlighting the campaign by The Refugee Tales for an end to the unlimited detention of asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K.

Three days  at The Putney Pantry with Thread and Word

Birds cut out and sent by artist and quilt maker Maggy Rodd from Broadstairs
The event gave us the opportunity to engage in conversations with visitors to the Putney Pantry and also to collaborate with individuals and groups who had chosen to come and support us. 

 Day 1 Monday 

The artist
Elainna Arkeooll arrived with her beautiful embroidered pieces.

These pieces contain the prologue to the Refugee Tales.

setting up outside

  A shirt embroidered by Myra Vasdekys placed on a gate at the entrance to St Mary's Church Putney.

 Creating  a temporary installation which is recreated each day in a slightly different way. 


The textile artist Janet Gilbert  from Nottingham spent two days working with us. 

Janet brought her own samples of cut out birds and also her own printed textile materials to add to the process.

Day 2 Tuesday

A visit from members of the London Guild of spinning weaving and embroidery

The Prologue from The Refugee Tales

Day 3 Wednesday

Artist Nicola Weir's work arrives from Edinburgh

Daniel Doherty from The Putney Social
A visit from Brenda Jenkins representing the Gatwick detainee Welfare group bringing leaflets about The refugee Tales.
Brenda stitched one of Janet Gilbert's beautiful textile prints.

Jane Morley giving us hope

and so now looking forward to Hazelfest  on May 20th with Thread and Word

Thread and Word will be open to the public and will invite participation in a collaborative sewing event with a focus on a call for an end to unlimited detention of asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K.

Thread and Word is a collaborative group set up by the artist Elspeth (Billie) Penfold. 

For more about Elspeth’s work :

The group Thread and Word has used walking and textiles to bring together people who welcome the opportunity to take part in collaborative events highlighting social issues and sharing stories. 

More about this work can also be found on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ThreadandWord/

For Thread and Word at WAF participants will be given materials to stitch together using outlines of birds . All materials will be supplied and there is no requirement to have any prior knowledge of stitching or embroidery.

The project will be linked with Refugee Tales , please follow this link to find out more about http://refugeetales.org