Friday 18 February 2022

 Reclaiming the Narrative  

An exhibition with The Power of Women 2022 at Turner Contemporary.

curated by Lucy Edematie 

March 4, 5 & 6.

I am delighted to be part of this exhibition featuring eight Kent-based artists with familial connections to countries including Bolivia, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Iran, Ukraine, India, and Nigeria. 

This is an introduction to my installation and an invitation to please join me in : 

A rewriting of the census through Quipus with Thread and Word

As many of you know I enjoy collecting stories. I am from Latin America, born in Bolivia. I was spoken to in  Quechua by Justina who looked after me as a child. Quechua is the language of the Andean people it offers a different way of looking at the world.

In the Quechua language no one word exists on its own,

every word’s meaning exists ony in relation to another word. This opens up the possibilities of a many-layered worldview and is a shift away from the linearity of the way of thinking proposed by the age of enlightenment.

The UK is home to around 250,000 people of Latin American origin. They now form the largest generation of British-born Latin Americans. We are one of the country’s fastest-growing ethnic groups. This includes my three sons who are born in London, but we are  “invisible” not included in official policies, and almost absent in media portrayals.

Although British Latin Americans are increasingly visible in the arts, their political and wider representation still lags behind. Most strikingly, Latin American ethnicity is not recognised as a distinct category on the national census or other official forms.

Re-writing the Census is an invitation. to think through craft. To acknowledge the omissions of present census categories and to include all those who feel ‘othered’ or omitted. The  Inca civilisation, which predates the arrival of Columbus in South America, used textiles rather than written text to record their stories. They used ropes called Quipus and these were knotted to record and document valuable information. 

Textiles allow us to create multilayered narratives through the drawing together of many threads. Through touch, we experience an alternative language. Through the meditative knotting of these ropes, we can acknowledge the complexity of identity and the difficulties offered by single-word definitions.

My installation at Turner Contemporary offers visitors the oppoprtunity to take a rope, feel the chords, have a think, and knot the rope as a mnemonic tool to record the need to create a language that allows for complexity and inclusivity.  Watch our quipu grow over the next few days.

If you would like to share your stories with me I will be at Turner Contemporary making ropes and creating knots between 1pm and 4 pm, on Saturday, March 5th, and Sunday, March 6th.

References, containing personal testimonies

The experience of not seeing oneself represented on a form – and instead of having to tick the “Other” box – can have a profound personal impact.  “You feel like you don’t belong in society,”. For outsiders, it may seem like a “miniscule thing,” notes British-Chilean illustrator Javie Huxley. “But there’s a dehumanising effect when you’re not able to see yourself in the census.

The Canadian - Brazilian filmmaker Pizzichini’s documentary More than Other presents several teenagers who explain the cases of mistaken identity they confront on a daily basis. Moroccan, Asian, Turkish, Indian; you don’t look Cuban, you look Mexican. “I know where I’m from,” counters one. “And I’ll tell you that.”

Stubborn Archivist, the debut novel of British-Brazilian writer Yara Rodrigues Fowler, has been widely praised since its publication in July 2019 for distilling the British-Latin American experience of navigating multiple languages, countries, and identities.

for more about reclaiming the narrative and the artists involved: Reclaiming the Narrative 

Monday 10 January 2022

Plough Monday 2022

 Setting the Furrow to the Plough 

With thanks to Sara Trillo for leading me to this destination for a walk in Kent and for the walking prompt by @SoniaOverall #Distance Drift. 

I have included my collage as  I map our digital map A Different LENS with Fred Adam. 
Making maps of maps 😉.

This was yesterdays walk following a walking prompt from @Sonia Overall on Twitter :

1/ Sandwiched between Distaff Day (7/1) & Plough Monday (Mon after 12th Night),

I walked KingsGate bay ( sandwiched between Joss Bay and Botany Bay) in Kent

2/ Finding signs & tools of labour & industry: willing, unwilling, or interrupted.

Here are some photos I gathered as I walked,

some work is made by man

and some is made by the sea

and then there’s the interrupted labour of the lifeguard station
( closed for winter).

So back to mapping our map.

There’s much work to be done
( or is it play? ).

A walk between tides.

Happy Plough Monday. Have a great start to the week.

Monday 20 December 2021

An Invitation to a Winter Solstice Walk with #52more

You are invited to join Blake and me as we walk into winter.

The idea for this walk began in June when I responded to Blakes's call with an offer to be part of a walking project that he has been running for some time. You can read about the project here: More about #52more

I am offering a little preamble to my walk here as I prepare to walk tomorrow. 

I  emailed Blake in June and was delighted to receive my words in the post together with a leaflet. The instructions allowed me to use the words and the leaflet in whatever way I chose. Blake suggested that this should take place over seven days. This included using both sides of the cut-out words and doing as I wished with the leaflet.

 With some trepidation (why are we so afraid of getting it wrong ), I created this collage which, as I have looked at it over time, resembles a map. I am guessing this is because the leaflet had a map on it.

I made this piece as my suggestion for a walk with Blake six months ago or more. So I have had quite some time to think about it.
 I wrote a score by cutting and pasting the words I was sent, and Blake has provided his understanding of how to approach/ interpret it. I have included this below: 

We’ll be walking through books of our choosing and crafting stories of space (how does walking function as a storytelling mechanism). Read the score, interpret it how you like, and join us as autumn turns into winter.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about it.

My thinking has led me on a path that I am briefly outlining below.

My original book which I was going to reference was La Ciudad de las Bestias by  Isabel Allende, which for some reason in my mind was The Forbidden City.

I then saw that the English translation for the title of Allende's book was City of the Beasts, in my head it had always been The Forbidden City, who knows why? As you will see at the end of this posting this has proved rather fortuitous.

As I considered how walking might function as a storytelling mechanism,  I started to consider the map-like qualities of the collage that I had made from Blake's words. This took me to A Different LENS. This is a map I created with 12 artists and the Margate Bookie which takes you on walks using locative media and Literature.

You can access the map through the QR code on the image, use photos in your phone settings and scan it with your camera. 

My entry on the map told some of the stories of my family and its history through, Borges and the song Caminito on Buenos Ayres street in Margate. It also might help to explain why my name is Elspeth and, yes, I am from South America. You can follow my entry here:  https://cgeomap.eu/adifferentlens/?nodo=858

I then started again to think about Borges. I knew I was following an interesting path when Sonia Overall through #DistanceDrift on Twitter invited us to choose a book for a little bibliomancy the Sunday before last. 

I had to find a book rather quickly and went to my night table where there was a copy of Allende's House of the Spirits, and then, I spotted Borges.

This is what Umberto Eco wrote printed  on the back cover  of the book: 

"Joyce and Borges. The first designed with words and the second designed with ideas: the original, the one and only World Wide Web. The Real Thing. The rest will remain merely virtual "

This immediately made me consider the connections between words, ideas, and the world wide web where I found my map of The Forbidden City.

I then realized that the clue to my walk was staring at me in the face. As always I had become too literal in my thinking. 

This is how I have chosen to walk with a map of the forbidden city for my winter solstice walk. This of course connects to restrictions and what we are allowed to do or not depending on our circumstances during the present time.

I have included a copy of the map here. Make sure you click on it to see the key. I am very excited about how this will guide me. I will be walking tomorrow at 10.00 am and you can join me on Twitter @ThreadandWord #52more. It would be fab if you would like to try this too or, of course, I would love to see your own response if you are happy to share it with Blake. 

Happy Winter Solstice and Happy Walking!

Saturday 27 November 2021

We have made the longlist! 

Our project “A Different LENS” has been selected for the second round of the Digital Culture Awards in the Digital Storytelling category and we want to say thank you to all who have contributed to Thread and Word throughout 2020/2021. 

We are longlisted in the Digital Storytelling section:

"Use of digital for impactful storytelling to engage audiences. Achieved by the use of one or several connected narratives across digital media platforms with a strong audience-focused voice and story."

We are in good company :

  • Chinese Arts Now and Two Temple Place – CAN X Two Temple Place Digital Exhibition and Immersive Performance
  • Dante or Die Theatre – User Not Found Video Podcast
  • Everything is Music (A collaboration between Crack Magazine and Landmark) – Everything Is Music – a new location-based digital tour for mobile
  • Extant – Flight Paths
  • Focal Point Gallery and South Essex Homes – Contemporary Elders: Digital Connectivity
  • Horniman Museum and Gardens – Afro Historyscapes
  • M&C Saatchi x The Commonwealth War Graves Commission – CWGC – War Graves Week
  • Manchester International Festival – MIF21 Online
  • Rural Media – Rural Media’s Point Of View Project
  • The Margate Bookie – A Different LENS
  • Wild Rumpus CIC – Sounds of the Forest
We are proud to be included with so many incredible organizations that we admire and look forward to celebrating with you all.

Our project A Different Lens 

This is a collaborative project by twelve artists who co-created an interactive walking digital map of Margate in 2020. Each artist was asked to choose an author who is blind or became visually impaired during their lifetime. The initial project brief asked the artists to respond through a story presented as walks. These are located in Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, and Seasalter in Kent. You can connect with these through a geolocative map.

 The initial project brief design was to create walking experiences that might illustrate how storytelling makes the inaccessible accessible. You can access the map through this link

This link takes you to our web page and provides an introduction to the project.

The connection to locative media was initially designed to widen access to the walking experience to enable disabled artists to participate. However, the lockdowns caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant that the co-creative experience for all contributing artists shifted from being a hybrid experience to a completely digital one.   

Our artists:

Virginia Fitch
James Frost
Phoebe McIndoe
Clare Jackson
Amy Johnson
Amanda Jones
Diana Lane
William Lewis
Jack Lowe
Sonia Overall
Elspeth Penfold
Sara Trillo

Catch up with Bookie events here:Margate Bookie

At Thread and Word, we acknowledge the sustaining impetus of creativity and the renewed interest in the health benefits of walking throughout the challenges of 2020/2021. 

We are grateful for our partnership with Margate Bookie.   

We were at The Ageless Thanet futures Fair last week.

Throughout lockdown, opening up and locking down again Thread and Word artists have been working hard in partnership with The Margate Bookie. 

It has been a rollercoaster ride for us all, and sadly it's not over yet. However, creativity and community projects have sustained us and will keep on doing so. 

Thank you for supporting us!

A Digital Box Set of Creative Walks by Thread and Word

Wednesday 27 October 2021

#Walk Create           

I am delighted that Walking Weaves has become a featured gallery resource for walking research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This is a fab resource archiving the work of walking artists linked below: 


Walking Weaves is a series of weaves I made during the first lockdown. My initial idea came through Promeneur by Sheila Hicks, a piece I have always loved. Promeneur is a small weaving made on a little portable loom that is made of stretch bars. These were used by Hicks as private expressions or ramblings. Ramblings seems a particularly apt terminology. Hicks has made thousands of these since graduate school. 

I decided to make daily small weaves during this period of self-isolation. These reflected walks I have done walks I missed, imaginary walks, and walks I was looking forward to doing in the future. Each weave was made in the evening and posted on my Instagram page the next day. The postings became a diary as I reflected on the walk that day. I am in the process of uploading their stories on my website:


Thank you to those of you who followed these postings on Facebook and on Instagram during the first lockdown. Making these each day sustained me during a very testing time. 

You can join the gallery launch #walkcreate on November 3rd. It is free but ticketed on Eventbrite:


Hope to see you there ! 

 #walking #weavingstories #threadandword #walkcreate

Monday 16 August 2021

 A Refracted View Workshops to be delivered by Thread and Word at EKM Scrapstore Ramsgate.


Thread and Word Walking Events is grateful to have received a micro-grant from Creative Lives. This support is helping us to develop our work for A Refracted View.

For more about this project please visit: https://linktr.ee/ThreadandWord

Through this funding, we are offering  3x workshops at The Scrapstore @EKM in Ramsgate. The funding for the workshops will cover materials from the ScrapStore for up to 10 people.

We will hold these workshops in time for the Margate NOW festival on the 26th of September where we will be hosting a walk from Arcades to Arcadia with Billie Penfold (Thread and Word) and other artists. The walk will take place, from Margate Station, it includes a walk-through exhibition at The Nayland Rock Hotel before continuing to the sunken gardens in Westbrook. The walk is free but pre-booking is required through: www.margatenow.co.uk 

During the workshops, the participants will be supported to make items for the walk and exhibition: Details of the workshops will follow shortly.

By holding these workshops we hope to bring to life the walking cards and encourage participants to come along to the walk and exhibition. 

After the workshops, we will explore the viewfinders and walking cards in various walking groups for GOLD members. Participants in the workshops will be the ‘experts’ in A Refracted View and can share their insight with their peers.  

You can see a short introduction to our Walking Cards here :



Thursday 20 May 2021

 Thank you for walking with us Owen Lowery (1968 - 2021)


A photo sent by Owen for A Walk with Shrines. Our thoughts are with his wife Jayne at this sad time.

It is with great sadness that I share this piece made with Owen for A Refracted View. Owen has contributed through Thread and Word to our film A Walk with Shrines, the soundscapes Are You Listening and The Listening Post for The  Margate Bookie and Let’s Take a Moment the soundscape for Arts and Minds with Sound Uk and the  LV21. He sent me some wonderful poetry recordings for our latest project @a_refracted_view_ and we made this video. You will be sorely missed Owen but we will continue to love and share your work. Thank you for making our lives a little brighter. 

This publication is made out of public concerns, expressions of grieves, and sympathy. ”We’re saddened to hear of the death of much-loved poet Owen Lowery on Friday 14th May 2021. We’ve published two of Owen’s collections: Otherwise Unchanged in 2010 and Rego Retold in 2015. A third, The Crash Wake Poems, is forthcoming in Autumn 2021…....” @Carcanet  announced the passing of Lowery on social media on 17th, May 2021.