Wednesday, 31 May 2017


'Listening with our eyes'

'it is difficult to be responsible to an environment, if we have not first listened in to find out who is present'  J.E. Skinner.

Our research for thewalk with #ThreadandWord, with its links to Cecilia Vucña's poem Thread and Word and the associated installation Precario at Inverleithh House in 1970; as well as an unexpected introductory walk through the Bluebell woods in Coventry with Professor Jonathan Skinner, are already ensuring that we listen with our eyes.

Yesterday I received this from one of the artists collaborating on  the#ThreadandWord walk in Edinburgh on July 7th.

This is from Nicola Weir :
‘Inspired by nature and foraging, and loving the bluebells linking in ..have done some research, and discovered in ancient times they were used as a book binding glue, and starch for linen.. seems so appropriate to use this in what I am doing..so hope to try out, and hopefully use in some way with the stitching. 
Luckily have lots of bluebells in our garden! I believe not meant to uproot in the wild.

So will update you on experiment..fingers crossed..’

For more about Nicola and her work : http://www.edinburghprintmakers.co.uk/artist/nicola-weir

I was so elated and delighted as I really felt that the process we are using, engaging with walking as research with sited readings, does lead us on a personal journey allowing us to respond and develop new work as a part of our artistic practice.

It brought to mind the following quote from The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane:

The literature of wayfaring is long, existing as poems, songs, stories, treatises and route guides, maps, novels and essays. The compact between writing and walking is almost as old as literature - a walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells’

This text also finds its own echo in the poetry of Cecilia Vicuña:
'La palabra es un hilo y el hilo es lenguaje.          (  Word is thread and thread is language.
Cuerpo no lineal.
Una linea asociándose a otras lineas.'                     Non linear body

(Cecilia Vicun1a, Palbra e Hilo )                               A line associated to other lines.)

This has found expression in Nicola's work, which she has described as follows:
'Stitching small samples for the artist walk linking 'Threads' to Inverleith House - on pure linen and cotton muslin. light and tactile threads..natural forms linking to the connection with Royal Botanic Gardens.
 The Artists Pool, https://www.theartistspool.co.uk linking artists & coming together at Dundas Street Gallery in July. Edinburgh Threads - art, poetry, place connecting.'

Weaving , pen words and paper by Elspeth Penfold

For more about this walk please visit our Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/ThreadandWord/?ref=bookmarks

and Eventbrite:

(although the walk is fully subscribed you can go on the waiting list and will be notified if a place becomes available)


Saturday, 20 May 2017

 Walking with The Waste Land developing a walking collaboration with The Garden Gate in Margate.

A walk in May
Walking with The Waste Land and the Garden Gate  Margate.

“ a poem can be like walking down a street  and noticing things, extending itself without obscurity or too much effort” Larry Eigner  (for Charlotte)

We met at 12pm and walked from the Garden Gate to The Ridings through Northcot House Gardens.

 It wasn’t our intended destination when we started but it was a beautiful sunny day and when we got to Cliftonville Library we saw the sea in the distance and the group decided it was where we should go. 

Some of what we saw we saw:

Building bird houses (at the Garden Gate)

Flowers: Tulips, Pansies, Aquilegia, Wallflowers, Hyacinths, Sweet Williams Geraniums, Poppies
A cobweb hanging from a tree.                                       
The Pump station at The Ridings 
Hog’s Fennel (closely related to cow parsley) 

We also saw:

A cloud shaped like an Oyster Shell and another one like a dinosaur.

We talked about The Pump house ( with thanks to Laura)  walking, breathing, connecting to the ground, meditation, and how maybe on our next walk we could write some poetry and make some ropes.

Our next walk is on, June 8th, 10 am - 12 pm , meet at the Garden Gate. It would be lovely if you could join us!

Photography, courtesy of Jennifer Deakin.

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, 15 May 2017

As I think about the Edinburgh walk I am reflecting on this line from Larry Eigner:
“a poem can be like walking down a street and noticing things, extending itself without obscurity or too much effort”
This quote has made me think about how much of my time is spent engaging in the things that surround Cecilia Viucuña's poem and my walking practice which goes beyond the words of the poem itself.

This is a drawing I made this week in an effort to try to make connections with the walking process, making knots and drawing.
As those of you who read my blog might be aware on my walks I make ropes by hand in my studio and ask participants who walk with me to make knots in ropes to document the experience.
The drawing is something I want to do more of and it has been re-affirmed by my reading of Confabulations by John Berger. This reading came about as I prepare for a related walk in August with The Walking with The Waste Land group and of course there are cross-overs or maybe confabulations.
There is so much that is pertinent to what I am engaged in. Berger writes:
“During the last week I’ve been drawing, mostly flowers, motivated by a curiosity which has little to do with either botany or aesthetics…..Is it possible to ‘read’ natural appearances as texts?…It is a gestural exercise, whose aim is to respond to different rhythms and forms of energy, which I like to imagine as texts from a language that has not been given to us to read” 
and so, I keep looking carefully at ropes and knots.