Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Are you Listening?

A Video and a Photo diary

A walk in Battersea Park for the Chelsea Fringe

As we take part in interventions on our route and listen  to poetry readings we knot handmade ropes as a record of the emotions we feel as we walk.

These ropes are attached to the Vara at the end of the walk.The Vara is covered in a weave hand made on an inkle loom.The design of the weave created by Elspeth (Billie) Penfold as a response to the place and walking event.

 The knots attached to the Vara.

A photo diary

House keeping : stay together, pace of walk  

photography , Anna Bowman, with thanks.

Introduce walkers to each other


Introduce Flags , work and play scrapstore - opportunity to discuss , look and touch.

Introduce Lucy Claire  , setting up to record the soundscape

Introduce walk :  a derive of sorts…

We will be visiting sites chosen by artists who wish to have their work located there specifically . So we will set of to find these places.

Pump gallery, an invitation to participate in an action to HUMMMMMM, an action led  by Billie 


    Listen to the trees, an action by Billie 



 Go with your creative flow an invitation by Julia Riddiough at the Barbara Hepwort sculpture, enacted by Laura Shawyer


 A Listening exercise (  listen draw what you can hear) lino print map by Billie


  London Calling by Julia Riddiough at The peace Pagoda enacted by Billie

These interspersed with poetry readings. 

"Blackbird poems"  en route 
sent by Owen Lowery ,
read by Virginia Fitch intermittently at various stops during the walk.

'A Late Blackbird'
'Listening to Blackbirds as You Fly Out'
'Blackbird at the Stretton Fox'

with thanks to Owen Lowery

Susan reads 'My Heart Leaps Up when I Behold' by William Wordsworth.

 Susan Sciama reads ' Volcanic Ash' by Susan Sciama

a flag by Saffron Saidi, using materials from the Work and Play Scrapstore. She used plastics, Saffron writes:

 " I tried to keep it simple 3 colour blue pallet and include plastic of all kinds which you often find in rivers as a result of littered pollution, I think the theme of plastic flowers, waves and texture created within the flag remind me of the sea, netting, plastic and ribbon to represent the natural movement."

You can view the slideshow/ video here

Some Notes:

Why Listening?

Cecilia Vicuña performance by the Mapocho in 1970, Listen to the River

  “ the water wants to be heard . Everything is falling apart because of a lack of connections. Weaving is the connection that is missing , the connection between people and themselves , people and nature. Life is a winding adventure. At times it is rough , at others, calm and peaceful. Life, in a lot of ways is like a river.” (Cecilia Vicuña)

As I prepared ideas for the walk , I started with a focus on the river as a metaphor for our relationship wit the environment . However, as time continued and I attended talks and events, walked by the river and spoke with contributing artists the emphasis shifted on our need to listen to the earth and the world around us.

This walk has poetry readings and actions that draw our attention to the environment that t surrounds us and how we might consider listening to it.

Owen Lowery Blackbird poems. Virginia Fitch  reading his poems at various points as we walk.

Poem by Owen Lowery read by Virginia

 Hummmmm :  Courtyard of the Pump House , stand in a circle, our first action to consider how we can listen to our surroundings.

OSE     (Resonance and the museum Claire le Croeut ) The world is the repository/ museum , our legacy which we leave behind.

(Bill Viola considered the idea of materials having a unique sonic signature or voice that he describes as “ a second shadow existence,)
and a Quote Pythagoras “ told his followers that a stone is frozen music  - he understood the universe to be organised as a system of mathematical harmony - he believed in the healing power of music."

We Hummmmmmmmm to the courtyard in a circle at Pump House Gallery.

Walk to trees  —- use ‘can’ action, a conversation between two trees in the park.

Poem by Owen Lowery read by Virginia

 Barbara Hepworth 

Orange knotted rope

Anottal seeds

Julia riddiough ' Go with your Creative flow' … all hold orange knotted rope. 

Meditation and visualisation

Poem by Owen Lowery

 Listen and draw sounds Walk around the lake , find a space for action 

Introduce Sumak Kawsay , give booklets..
Read Volcanic Ash - Susan Sciama

Poem by Owen Lowery

peace pagoda

 action Julia Riddiough, ' London Calling' , The Clash 1979
A protest poem, song and shout out concept by Julia Riddiough enacted by Billie Penfold and fellow walkers.

S.O.S recorded by Julia Riddiough in Deal.


A soundscape of this walk: Are you Listening?

Saturday, 25 May 2019

'Contemporary Art and Ritual'

An  Exhibition in The Crypt Gallery St Pancras

May 16th - May 21st 2019

Photo courtesy Rikard Osterlund

With thanks to Caro Williams
Deborah Burnstone for curating this exhibition

Exhibiting artists, a pleasure to work with you all:
Photo courtesy Rikard Osterlund

Rosalind Barker
James S Bond
Deborah Burnstone
Zara Carpenter
Blandine Martin
Zoe Simon-Walker
Hannah Stageman
Sally Tyrle
Nne Uzolgwe
Jane Walker
Caro Williams

For more about the exhibition and the artists involved


Varas photo courtesy Anastasia Miller

It was wonderful to be able to exhibit the Varas in such a perfect setting.

Matt Bray (Artist and Curator) describes the Varas in his review of the exhibition:

"The first work you encounter upon entering the crypt are a series of knotted rope poles or Varas by Elspeth Penfold, which are actually archives of performative walks. The Varas were made as part of an exploration of the relationship between walking, weaving and storytelling over the past 5 years. They feel like something you might imagine a witch doctor using to conduct a healing ceremony, and the connection is apt as the artist uses her walks in the same vein; expanding our normal small window on the world to allow in something of the divine."

Review by Matt Bray

With thanks to all who came and visited and those who were unable to but  sent us good wishes.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

A Wander with Thread and Word.   

Contemporary Art and Ritual 
St Pancras Gallery

This exhibition ends today

This Wander took place last Saturday at St Pancras Crypt . I was delighted to be given the opportunity to create a wander which took participants on a different type of gallery tour.

We walked , re-imagining the way we spend time in art galleries. 

We took a leaf out of the poem  May 5th written by Sonia Overall in The Art of Walking. We thought about being toddlers running into a gallery space , squealing at the giant SILENCE on the wall, gleefully stamping our boots , "you realise that she is participating."

A Vara recording A Walk for Armistice Day
by Elspeth (Billie) Penfold

We experimented with alternative approaches to the ingrained walk, stop and glance, as we wandered through the exhibition.

These approaches included actions and poetry readings that responded to the artwork in the exhibition and also to the beautiful space in the St Pancras Crypt.

photo courtesy of the artist

The Mountain Pose as we contemplated fab work by Blandine Bardeau.

Paintings by Nne Kauzoigwe
 Paintings by Nne Kauzoigwe were viewed through a poetry reading of Owen Lowery's
poem Blackbird at The Stretton Fox :

"shared under a gentle whisper
of early light, stopping us as we grasp
that it is what it seems, a last
and a first from the thickening
dark, a sense or a gesture,
an invisible picture."

Photographs by Blandine Bardeau

Thank you to all who came walked and participated through  the  knotting of  ropes which recorded/scored  the memory of our experiences walking together in this wander through Contemporary Art and Ritual.

 The ropes are now attached to the Vara titled A Wander and will join the rest of the collections of fifteen varas, now sixteen, recording walks over the last four years with Thread and Word.

We ended our walk with an impromptu performance by the artist Christina Lovey. This created a beautiful connection with our next walk Are you Listening? in Battersea Park next Sunday at 2pm.

We hope to see you there!

For our next walk :Are You Listening?

A Wander was inspired by Ways to Wander the Gallery , by Clare Qualmann and Claire Hind. Published by Triarchy press. This book contains two walking scores by Elspeth Billie Penfold.

Monday, 6 May 2019

'Listening' sketchbook drawing 

'A Walk'  sketchbook drawing.

"Are You Listening? "

A circular walk that will offer the opportunity for us to consider our relationship with the environment, through small site specific interventions, poetry readings from the ecopoetics archive and a meditative knotting of ropes.

Knots a discussion , Margate

A walk in Battersea Park with slow listening for The Chelsea Fringe

Pump House Gallery

The Pump House Gallery situated beside a lake in Battersea Park

on May 26th
at 2pm
meet at Pump House Gallery


I have been inviting community groups,  artists, friends  and writers to participate in the walk Are you Listening? through the arts group I established in 2016,  Thread and Word . 

Thread and Word is a walking practice that uses site and poetry to reflect on notions of time and timelessness, conscouisness, memory and rhythm through sited readings, documentary evidence and performative interventions. 

Participants who collaborate in the walks with Thread and Word are encouraged to record their experience through a menemonic system of knots in ropes.

We have some wonderful writers and artists contributing to 'Are you Listening?' including work by:

Battersea park , photo Elspeth Penfold
 Owen Lowery Owen Lowery
 Billie Penfold  Elspeth - Billie- Penfold
 Julia Riddiouch Julia Riddiough
 Susan Sciama.  Susan Sciama

There are also contributions by friends and established walkers with Thread and Word, including, Virginia Fitch and Laura Shawyer.

These contributions of  poetry and small interventions will invite us to listen carefully to the world around us.

Lucy Claire sitting in the sun waiting

An Invitation to bring sounds on a walk - As we walk we  will be creatively recording a walking soundscape with Lucy Claire.

We are inviting participants to bring a sound ( recorded on a smartphone )  to the walk.  The artist and composer Lucy Claire   Lucy Claire is collaborating with us to record a soundscape of the walk. These sounds will be overlayed with sounds from the walk to create a sound piece which you will be able to access online.

If you sign up on eventbrite you will receive more details about this.

Although free numbers are limited  and  Ticketed https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/are-you-listening-listen-to-the-river-tickets-58716992104

We have been adding the layers to our thinking about this walk through Flags.

"Flags after all are the prototype of political textiles"
(Fray: Art and Textile Politics
Bryan-wilson, Julia)

Aflag by Gillian Upton

 Flags made by Jane Bull who volunteers at The Work and Play Scrastore South London

Jane Bull , Gillian Upton and Ann Waterston are three of the volunteers at TheWork and Play Scrapstore who since March have been making flags using materials from the Scrapstore . These flags will be on display at Hazelfest a community event organised by the Work and Play Scrapstore for The Wandsworth Arts Fringe on May 19th . We will  also be flying these flags on our walk.

We look forward towelcoming you on this walk.

This walk  has been supported by The Work and Play Scrapstore South London, The Chelsea Fringe , Pump House Gallery and the Enable Leisure and Culture Team at Wandsworth Council.

NoteThis project takes its inspiration from Adam Chodzco’s Ghost and a performance piece by the Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, Listen to the River. Cecilia Vicuña performed Listen to the River by the shores of The Mapocho river in Chile during a drought. Her work references climate change, the need to respect the environment as a living creative force and the responsibility we all carry in us to look, think about and consider our relationship to the natural world around us.

Originally made for the 2010 Whitstable Biennial, Ghost by Adam Chodzco is a kayak; a sculpture as the ves- sel, a coffin, a bed and a camera rig. Measuring 22ft in length Ghost was created to accommodate a rower in the back and a passenger at the front. Separated from the rower by a dome in the deck of the kayak, the passenger lies flat in the vessel– at the level of the water – with their head slightly raised. This viewpoint offers a unique perspective of the river and its banks, causing the passenger to consider their relationship with the surrounding landscape.