Tuesday, 31 January 2017

An Introduction

 I started the group Walking with the Waste Land  assisted and encouraged by research curator Trish Scott to use walking as a research tool as a part of the wider Research Group A Journey with The Waste Land, at The Turner Contemporary in Margate. The Research group has been working together for over eighteen months to curate an exhibition about TS Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land. 

During this time the walking group has undertaken a number of walks with community groups and the wider public using sites around Margate to read and explore aspects of the poem. 

We are now developing ideas for  two walks, Thread and Word which will be taking place in Shoreditch on March 5th . and Let’s Talk about Vivienne, a walk which will be a part of POW Thanet on March 11th in Margate. 

Please see previous blogs, for more about Let's talk about Vivienne and if you are interested youcan check out previous walks.

A Discordant Walk, on January 19th 2017
 What follows are some of the ideas that emerged from this walk.

1.The idea for a discordant walk came from my listening to All in a Chord on Radio 4 which pointed to the impact that going to see Rites of Spring by Stravinsky, had on TS Eliot. 

The chord and its composition made me think about how experimentation and pushing boundaries led to a wonderful piece of music which then influenced the writing of a poem about writing poetry. It is well worth listening to and I have added a link here:

The discordant chord made me also think of the Eliot's marriage and it reminded me of the structure of the poem itself .Furthermore  the power of the music as a physical experience seemed to me to link with the research process we are using which involves the physical activity of walking as a way to research the poem.

2. Music and Chords also came to mind a few days later when I was researching the links between walking and weaving and found a link to "Walking Threads, Threading Walk”:
Ropes made for participants on a Margate Walk

Weaving and Entangling Deleuze and Ingold with Threads

I started to use knots and ropes to document  the walks after recalling   reading about Tribes in Papua New Guinea who used ropes and knots to document their walks in Tim Ingold's book Threads.

sylvanno Bussoti

I love the above image. I found it as a result of my reading and it reminded me of the relationships between what appear to be things that have no relationship, in this case knots and strings and musical annotation which goes full circle back to the inspiration for a discordant walk.

I also found a reference  to Tim Ingold's description of  writer as weaver (text, textere). As a weaver myself who now seems to be spending a great deal of time walking and writing  it reminded me again of the meanings that are found in textiles and made me think about the straps I have been weaving. I had a conversation with an artist on a walk last Saturday about the fact that I was making the straps without knowing why I was doing this. Maybe I do know really, are they related to the walks, I wonder.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Seasalter in the frost in January, an estuary walk.

 Reflections on last week's walk from Espacio Gallery to Leadenhall Market: a field trip for our walk Thread and Word on March 5th.

Feedback and Reflections from our field trip on January 19th

  These are a few of the thoughts that have remained with me after last week’s walk, the observations made and the discussion that followed after the walk

 I thought these were worth sharing as the purpose of the walking is research and responses. A very big thank you to Naya, Sheelah and Jennifer for their contribution on the day and also in helping to formulate the following.

The thoughts, reflections, ideas, connections.

1.The site of sculpture in the City of London, with so many tall buildings, engages your senses. They draw the gaze up and  can make it difficult to focus on the sculptures. Whether you agree or disagree, it brought to mind  this link to the site and the history of Sculpture in the City. I think it is helpful to know more about the Sculpture in the City program and the designated site so I'm providing this link.

(This is not a great photo but it demonstrates how subtle and unobtrusive  the work by Lizi is) 

2. Cadenetas-  by Lizi Sanchez, is so subtle and evocative, resembling paper chains caught in the trees and buildings,

I thought about the association between Lizi’s work and ideas of fragmentation which link to both the poetry of Cecilia Vicuña and TS Eliot.

It made me think about the process we are engaged in, using poetry, artworks and artists from many different backgrounds to create personal interventions in the walk, with spaces or gaps in between, chains or fragments that link us together.

 I thought the the following article which I read some time ago was an interesting connection and how the spaces in between can tell us as much as what is in front of us.

3. Does reading Cecilia Vicuña's poem in Spanish give you a greater insight into the poem and it's associated imagery? I had a very interesting exchange of emails about culture with Sheelah and it led me to this. See the photo alongside.

"Palabra e Hilo/ Word & Thread is published in a numbered edition
of 300 copies, including 26 signed and lettered by the author and
translator, on the occasion of Cecilia Vicuña's exhibition "Precario"
Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh,
October 26th 1996 - January 5th 1997."

Serendipity! The Threads exhibition will be travelling to Edinburgh in July and Inverleith House is within walking distance from the gallery where we will be exhibiting. More about this nearer the time.

More links, on a closer reading of the poem there is a reference to "Mary Frame" , to be found in the text "Weaver of Worlds: from Navajo Apprenticeship to Sacred Geometry and Dreams", which speaks to me of the mythic method used in Modernist writings and the work of TS Eliot.

And finally.......
'quipucamayoc' a piece I made last November

4.The photo above "quipucamayoc" is of a piece I made in November from the knotted ropes of the walkers who took part in a walk for Armistice Day in Margate.For more about this and an explanation of the origins of the title:


There was some discussion after our field trip last week as to whether the knots made by walkers should by shared and their meaning explained. Is there a  logic in the knotting?

I am undecided. I think textiles tell their own stories. As explained by the anthropologist Frank Solomon, " Khipu cords are paths guiding the hands, eye and mind to the trans temporal source of things". Maybe they represent the things that you can't find the words to explain?

I am looking forward to our next walk.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Preparing for Thread and Word a walk from Espacio Gallery to Leadenhall Market on March 5th at 1pm.

This walk is by invitation only, please email me if you would like to take part.

The walk is part of a programme of events organised at Espacio 
Gallery as part of the Threads exhibition curated by the Artists’ Pool. 
This 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. 

"Cadenetas " a drawing 
With this in mind I have invited artists, writers, friends, performers and walkers, to celebrate the threads that bring us together which will be reflected in the readings, interventions and performances as we walk. The route I have chosen is from the Espacio gallery to the site of Sculpture in the City where we can reflect on the achievements of the two women sculptors from different backgrounds, Amy Lucas (English) and Lizzie Sanchez (Peruvian) whose work is represented amongst the public artworks. Lizi  Sanchez’s work “Cadenetas” (paper chains) is particularly evocative of the sentiment guiding this walk.
'Cadenetas'  at the Hiscox building
Lizi Sanchez's work which is discreetly positioned  along several sites as a part of Sculpture in the city.

Thread and Word - an introduction:

This walk is both a departure from and a continuation of  the work I have been undertaking for the last eighteen months as a part of the A Journey with The Waste Land Research group at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. I have established and led a walking group to research T S Eliot's writing of the Waste Land and it's connections with Margate. For more about this:

I have chosen to use readings from 'ThreadWord' by the Chilean artist CeciliaVicuña for this walk because Cecilia Vicuña is a woman from my part of the world. In her poetry she follows T S Eliot's focus in writing a style of poetry that is concerned with it's function rather than form .
"Metaphors in tensions, the word and the thread carry us
A weave, Metaphors in Tension
threading and speaking, to what unites us, the immortal

(Thread Word, Cecilia Vicuña)

The walk  brings together several strands of my art practice. Cecilia Vicuña is a Chilean female artist whose art is a recurring influence for me .I share her belief that it is through doing and making that new work emerges and creativity is developed.The act of making takes you into a different place which allows for expression that sometimes cannot be put into words. By using walking as research and connecting it to place and people through everyday interactions and sited interventions I hope to create opportunities for participating walkers to gain a sense of interconnectedness in a world that is rapidly becoming polarised and inward looking.

Weaving and rope making, with their rhythms and repetitions can take you on a journey, using your imagination and bringing  you into a different realm of story telling: 

                       "Word is thread and the thread is language

                        Non-linear body.

                        A line associated to other lines.

                        A word once written risks becoming linear,
                        but word and thread exist on another dimensional

(Thread Word, Cecilia Vicuña)

The words of Thread and Word are very connected with the ideas and ambitions of the exhibition at Espacio, celebrating the common threads that bring us together, and connecting with my own work bringing people together with shared interests through walking.This has also found expression in my making ropes for the walkers I have invited to participate.
'Is the word the conducting thread, or does thread
conduct the word-
Both lead to the centre of memory, a way of uniting and
 (Word Thread, Cecilia Vicuña)

It is my intention to continue to explore these connections through walking by using sited readings and performances chosen by members of the Walking with The Waste Land research group and invited artists. 

I will also be asking participants to use ropes to document the walking experience as recorded in my work Quipu, which has been selected for the Threads exhibition at Espacio. The knots are a recording of emotions, reactions and engagements during the walk

A Khipu (Quipu or Chinu in Aymara) is an Andean storage device made from chord .
(Frank Solomon)

This concept is not uniquely Andean it is also found in the Pueblos of New Mexico, it is referred to in the Bible, Numbers 15:37 -38, Herodotus mentions one during the Persian wars and they can also be found in the Ryukun Islands and Hawaii.

I am interested in exploring these connections through walking, sited readings, performances and interventions. 

Ropes made  for participants and knotted on a field trip organised on  January 19th
More about this and my walking practice can be found on my blog: http://elspethpenfold.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/fragments-and-thoughts-explanation-and_14.html

 I look forward to collaborating with the invited artists, friends and walkers and in sharing their work and responses to celebrate the threads that bring us together. I hope that the walk will help us explore a common bond and provide us with new opportunities and experiences to develop our art practices.

Monday, 16 January 2017

I am also so delighted to be organising this walk on March 11th.

                                                    Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot (28 May 1888 – 22 January 1947)

‘Let's talk about Vivienne’ 
An Artist Led Walk by Elspeth Penfold with Turner Contemporary 
‘Walking the Wasteland’ Research Group
Saturday March 11th 2017 11.00 a.m. - 1.30 p.m.
Meet: Turner Contemporary 
Finish: Dreamland Margate

‘Let's talk about Vivienne’ is an artist led walk by Elspeth Penfold with the Turner Contemporary ‘Walking with the Waste Land’ research group. As part of International Women’s Day celebrations in March 2017 we will openly and collaboratively celebrate Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot’s influence in the writing of the Waste Land with sited readings and interventions along the walk and reflect on the contribution of the ‘ghost women’ in TS Eliot's writing. Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot has been seen variously as a femme fatale who enticed Eliot into marriage or his muse without whom some of his most important work would never have been written.



The Walking with The Waste Land group have been preparing for this walk and already have some wonderful ideas in place.

 We are doing a bit of fieldwork and will be undertaking a discordant  walk on Wednesday  January 19th. I will keep posting as things progress.

Tickets for the walk on Saturday March 11th can be booked through POW Thanet, we have limited numbers, so book as soon as you can! We look forward to walking with you.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

2 Walks  For The New Year

Thread and Word - A London Walk on March 5th 2017

The walk is part of a program of events organised at Espacio Gallery as part of the Threads exhibition curated by the Artists Pool which opens in March. I have had work selected for the exhibition, titled 'Quipu'.

'Quipu' documents one of the walks I organised in Margate for the ‘Writing Buidlings’ symposium at the University of Kent in July 2016.  This walk is an ongoing development of the work we have been undertaking at The Turner Contemporary as a part of A Journey with The Waste Land research group for over a year now. Cecilia Vicuña’s poetry, is very much in the style of a stream of consciousness as first used by TS Eliot.and we will be able to explore these connections as we walk.

I am currently gathering interest from those wishing to take part in this walk, please get in touch should you be interested. I will be organising a few meetings and walks during the next few weeks to explore the poem and to open the process to new ideas, readings and interventions. These walks are by invitation only.

For more about my walking practice and the ideas that underpin walking as research please visit previous postings, you can also visit My a-n blog, Walking with The Waste Land.

I will be posting news about a second walk, which will take place in Margate in a separate posting.