Sunday, 18 October 2020


An introduction to The Supercluster Fire-pit and my first experience as a Fire-Keeper

I was invited by Fred Adam , Geert Vermeire and Stephanie Whitelaw to become a fire-keeper around the supercluster fire-pit last Friday evening. 

Image Fred Adam

The plan is to bring together friends and contributors to the Earthlings Summer School hosted at Kings College last July and to keep the fire of those encounters burning and, hopefully, create new experiences, exchanges and encounters. A school reunion if you like but with additional elements. These can all be found in the fire-keepers guide. I decided to write this and describe my experience as I really wanted to record my first visit to the campfire.

This was my gratitude from the Earth  

B. Fasicularia , an Andean plant 

My gratitudeSometimes we don't see or appreciate what is in front of us.

I had been walking around looking and thinking about what I would bring as my earth totem and I suddenly realised that it was there right in front of my eyes. It was outside my studio door and yet I was spending my time looking for it on walks elsewhere. I think it found me.... This happened last Tuesday ....I have had this plant from Chile for the last four years and it did this. You could easily miss it as it is tucked inside the grasses. It is alchemy as the green colour of the foliage has been transformed to a bright hue with blueish edging. I am wondering if it was the heat of the sun this summer.

with gratitude to Fred Adam for introducing my fasicularia into the campfire

My topic: was to reference Cecilia Vicuña's small sculptures titled Precarios.  Cecilia Vicuña has developed her practice of making precarios these are small scuptural pieces of collected found fragments which develop into a broader conversation about political struggle, the displacement and erasure of indigenous people in a time of increasing globalism, and the alarming, ever more apparent effects of climate change on the natural world. 

 I then invited us around the campfire to engage in making some playful sculptural pieces from found objects. I suggested we should use  SON QON, this is a quechua word meaning the energy of the heart, to guide us as we look around us for the overlooked. 

We then introduced these to each other ending with a  "soplo" a soft sound a whisper if you like that might represent the pieces we made.

I am interested in indigenous practices, poetry , weaving and storytelling and I do believe that by re-visiting ancient practices we can re-imagine how we relate to the earth, to each other and perhaps re-imagine how we would like to engage with the wider world. I am really enthused and interested to see where these meetings might lead us to next.

In the meantime you might like to check out this event next Tuesday which is free and, I think , very connected to some of the ideas associated with our fire-pit actions :

Open School East

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Mapping : Locative media +Literature .

Here some Saturday fun for those of you who like puzzles. Check out our map A Different LENS, linked below.
1. Link authors to places listed in this image
2. See if you can work out the locations of the artworks using Lat.and long. ( also Maps)

 Have a fab Saturday. Brought to you courtesy of @margatefestival @margatebookie @peopledemcollective

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

A Digital Quipu through Mapping 
A Different LENS with cgeomap.eu 

A Different LENS was produced through Thread and Word  for the Margate Bookie with support from Arts Council England and Margate NOW 2020.

I started a very fluid artists group called Thread and Word in 2014 . When I create ideas for projects I reach out to artists who I think might be interested in walking and working with me on a particular theme.. I then create a project brief for us to explore and develop ideas. A wonderful group of people, including artists, authors, friends and community members gathered under the umbrella title Thread and Word and  co-created the map A Digital LENS with me. This took more than six months as we met, discussed and developed our ideas. 

Thread and Word is inspired by the Chilean Artist Cecilia Vicuña”s poem  Hilo y palabra. This means Thread and Word in Spanish. The poem was written in the 1970’s with a limited number of copies being made and shared. 

      I was lucky to walk with Professor Jonathan Skinner in the blue bell woods at Warwick University. He is a friend of Cecilia Vicuña’s and shared this image with me. 

In  2010 I  created an immersive installation in a gallery space in Whitstable that was inspired by the poem.  I have since used elements of the poem for walks in Edinburgh, where the poem was written, and in London, Margate and Whitstable. 

       A line from Cecilia Vicuña's poem.

I am from South America , born in Bolivia . I was spoken to in Quechua, an Andean language,  by Justina who looked after me as a child  In Quechua  the word for “language” also means “thread”, and the word for “complex conversation” also means “embroidery”. In Quechua, no word exists for a singular entity. In the ancient Andean communities, a single thing  was an aberration while the interrelated pair was the norm and defined completeness. This is  also reflected in the weavings which documented life during the time of the Incas, before the Spanish conquest.  I can see connections between this ancient world view rooted in the land and I believe making this connection might  contribute to a greater understanding of the map, which I hope blurs the boundaries between  organisers , artists, and participants mirroring the duality and reciprocity found in the Quechua word: Ayni

 The digital map A Different LENS has entries which are made up of many threads (texts, photos, video and sound) these are spun together to create multilayered stories. Some of these are secret or hidden. The map is a tapestry , an embroidery of multilayered conversations about selected authors and their stories. These are woven into the fabric of Margate and its  surrounding area in Kent. 

Image: entry by Jack Lowe , Follow Galileo around the Gates to Dreamland.

If you look at the map it is visually very beautiful with repeat patterns  of blue . green , grey and pink. Each colour represents an area in Kent.These locations are placed  on the green surface of the gps  satellite mapping that connects the entries for you to feel connected to and enable you to explore  the location. The repeated shape of the tear drop with a magnifying glass in the centre  points you to the locations chosen by each artist for their entry on the map. This symbol  was designed by Fred Adam, artist and curator of Cgeomap. The magnifying glass is the lens with we choose to view our  engagement with place and literature. I am here taking you through my own lens for viewing the map.

The map’s design reminds me of a Quimpu which is the cloth that was held in the highest regard by the Incas.The Inca civilisation used textiles rather than written text to record their stories, The Quipus are knots used by the  Incas to record and document valuable  information and remain with us today in museums as artefacts for display representing a past civilisation. I have been walking in the Uk for over six years exploring the relationship between weaving, walking and storyteliing. Participants who walk with me are invited to knot ropes to record the experiences of the walk .  

The design for these walks  often includes selected poetry readings, and performative actions. When the walk is finished I then attach the knotted ropes to a vara or pole  which has a particular weave wrapped around it This weave is woven on an inkle loom and responds to the theme or location of the walk. These weaves are symbolic,  like those of the woven Quimpu . The knotted ropes from the walking event are then attached to the vara or pole and each vara becomes the text for a walk. At present I have  22 varies of the walks I have undertaken in collaboration with Festivals and co-created  with participants who join me under the umbrella of Thread and Word. 

A Different LENS our map has embedded in it the process of knot making while walking . The  knots connecting the stories on our digital map  A Different Lens are through the locations as each becomes a url node or a nodulo (in  Spanish word for knot is nudo ). Nudos during the time of the Incas would have been known as quipus.

The map A Different LENS contains many further connections to the past culture of the Andes including  elements of the Quechua concepts of Thread: Ayni, Ukhu, Tinku, Q’iwa, and Ushay . These are comprehensively described  by Rebecca Stone  whose article I have referenced at the end. These five ideas illustrate how the general Andean worldview is complex, layered, and based on a  different understanding of the world to that of most Westerners. For instance, whereas we say the future is ahead because it is a place not yet reached, Quechua speakers say it is behind because it is not yet seeable. I hope that the digital layering of our map illustrates this complex multilayered world view. 


My final thought is with reference to the secret entries on our map A different Lens . These are pink markers if you view the map on your laptop or,  if you are outside walking it , theses are signalled by the chimes of the Margate Clock . Our Secret entries open to reveal a walking prompt designed by Sonia Overall. These  link to the artists locative entries and responses  to the  chosen texts. These texts include, James Joyce, Milton , Thurber , Borges , Deanna  Quietwater , Bill Lewis and the music of Victoria Claire. 

Our #DistanceDrift prompts to secret entries on our map have become the “Tinku” of the map . This concept from the Quechua language  is beautifully described byRebeca Stone  as the novelty of what is produced by encounters between different people and things which allows for creative innovation. The image attached is  of a response by Julie Brixie Williams  to a secret entry #DistanceDrift prompt which is  attached to Dancers an entry on the map by Diana Lane.  In  the Quechua  word Tinku  means change is  or that which is different. Tinku adds  the element of change to the balancing idea of ayni, which means generally to encounter and  specifically when two things converge into a new third entity. The Distance Drift offers all who engage with the map the opportunity to take part and in this sense the entry gets changed through this participation and becomes our Tinku.  

Image;Julie Brixie Williams, participated in #distancedrift on Twitter. We liked it so much we uploaded onto the map.

The idea of connecting  our Digital map  to Quechua and through this language structure to the the Quipu  became clear to me following a short talk I gave as part of a panel discussion on Locative media and Literature, the Spaces between the Words  chaired by Geert Vermiere. I am grateful to Geert my fellow panellists and the attendees who through their conversation pointed me in this direction. I have written this to connect the threads of a conversation which were discussed  a part of this panel. My ambition when I started my walking practice was to research the relationship between walking weaving and writing. I am very much enjoying the journey and would like to thank all who have contributed to this rich and ever evolving experience.

A Different LENS : A digital Quipu


Saturday, 19 September 2020

A Different LENS

 A Different Lens is a collaborative project produced by the arts group Thread and Word for the Margate Bookie. Our journey starts with nine participating Kent based artists who have created material for an interactive digital map of stories with a focus on Margate and wider locations along the Kent Estuary. 



The first edition, entries to the map, include literary references to Thurber, James Joyce, Homer, Borges, Milton and Galileo. The artists use visual references that connect literature with personal responses to chosen locations.


Each artists has chosen a book, short story or a poem written by someone who is or became blind or visually impaired during their lifetime and introduce their writing to us through a creative engagement with storytelling referencing place.

The project connects with how we develop creative ideas to make the inaccessible accessible.


The map contains a strong audio presence as well as digitalised text and images. Listening to the audio without scrolling the images is a great way of enjoying  the experience without the distraction of reading text and looking at images.

If you are walking in Margate we hope that A Different LENS will  prompt you to engage with your surroundings through listening, providing a different experience as you might be engaging with familiar locations in a different way.

The mobile web app  contains surprise elements and hidden entries that are revealed if you are walking in Margate using your mobile, as the web app of the map links to gps. You must remember to switch the gps on for your phone if you are walking using the map and follow the safety guidelines.

The map is accessible on phones as a walk or on a laptop if you are unable to physically engage in the walk. The laptop experience also connects to gps and can take you on a virtual visit to Margate in an unexpected way. If you scroll through the links you are given insights through text, photos, sound and video which  show you the  locations and how these connect with memories, books and places.  


The map has an information page with full details :

You can visit the map and  find out more about the artists , locations and choices of authors  on the Thread and Word website: 


The vision is for a literary map that is going to develop with time throughout The Kent Estuary. Our next stage for the map will be to include entries by new artists and community members from East Kent Mencap, GOLD for Margate NOW 2020.

Please find information about how to participate through our virtual walks on a Sunday with #distancedrift and Margate NOW here:



We hope you enjoy following our journey!


Friday, 15 May 2020

Let's Take a Moment

This soundscape with accompanying video introduction of a recorded workshop at Turner Contemporary during The Margate Bookie can be viewed In Your Living Room at The Wandsworth arts fringe if you follow this link:  Let's Take a Moment

During  Creativity and Well being week May 18th until May 24th 2020, I am delighted to offer a  box set of 100 signed limited edition prints at a special price of £25

Photography by Anna Bowman

A soundscape and an explanation

Soundscapes can transport the listener from one environment to another. Listening to a soundscape can calm the mind and encourage time for reflection. Let’s Take A Moment is a sound world reflection of a collection of poetry by Owen Lowery and sounds from a collaborative walk in Gravesend. It focuses specifically on the coast and shoreline from With the fisherwomen of Nairn to the Mediterranean horizon of Pathos Sunset.   The artist and composer Lucy Claire worked with sounds from the walk Let's Take a Moment , the shore, the harbour, the hissing and sucking of the shore, the heady buzz of insects and the rhythmical sploshes of oars moving in and out of the water to bring another dimension to Owen’s words and help transport the listener from one place to another. 

The Box Set 

‘Let’s Take a Moment’ is an A5 box-set of materials produced through a walking event which was part of Arts and Minds a festival in Gravesend, Kent in 2019.  The lid of the box has a QR code printed on it. This links to a soundscape of the walk which can be listened to on iCloud. Inside the box are materials to interact with as you listen to the soundscape of the walk. These include a palo Santo incense stick, a rope to knot meditatively while listening, a copy of a performance of a sermon enacted during the walk, and a set of cards with listening activities.


Contact details: Elspeth (Billie) Penfold

A screen grab from twitter

Walking Weaves: Digitalising the Quipu

The Wandsworth Arts Fringe started last week , In Your Living Room. 

The arts listings and interactive element of this years fringe opens up the range of possibilities to create hybrid events which are both "live'" and digital. 

This has created a wonderful platform illustrating the possibilities for artists and community in which to develop events . 

I have four events which you can access below through Thread and Word at WAF 2020. 

The two pieces below are also digital stories containing  work made through walking and weaving in collaboration with artists and inviting community participation through making quipus.

a 14 minute film - A Walk with Shrines , with quipus attached to varas

13 short stories each three minutes long at The Listening Post

And ,of course you are my community now!

I'd love it if you could checkout the events at WAF,  listen to the soundscapes and email a photo of your quipu knotted rope . I have attached a sample of the ones I have received so far.

Each quipu has a particular story which you can see if you visitThread and Word Facebook Page .

I really hope you have time to listen, make and  email me your quipu : 


A short description of each of thes events listed can be found below

Are You Listening?
Are You Listening?  is a binaural soundscape of a performative walk. This walk took took place in Battersea Park as part of the Chelsea Fringe in 2019. The walk was supported by The Work and Play Scrapstore in Wandsworth. The recording shares sounds from the local area, poetry and performances which respond to particular sites during the walk. These draw your attention to our interconnectedness and environmental sustainability.  It has an accompanying slideshow. You are invited to join the walk, wear headphones, if you can. Take a rope ( ( not compulsory, but could be fun) and knot as you join in the poetry readings and actions. You are invited to make a quipu (meditatively knotted rope) of your experience and send the photo  to elspethpenfold@yahoo.co.uk . Your quipu and its story will be posted on The Thread and Word facebook page with your permission.
A Thread and Word Production by the artist Elspeth Penfold and invited artis

A Walk with Shrines  (a film)
14 mins

 Celebrating our love of books and what they mean to us. Artists and authors join together in a walk building shrines to selected books and poems at chosen sites during the Margate Bookie 2018. This film takes you on their journey through the making of the ‘ofrendas’ or offerings and the ritual of building temporary shrines at chosen sites during a walk in Margate. The film was made with funding support from Arts Council England , Turner Contemporary, Margate Bookie, Kent County Council and Margate Festival Now.

A Thread and Word Production by the artist Elspeth Penfold and invited artists

Let’s Take a Moment  
Let’s Take a Moment
 ‘ Let’sTake a Moment’,  is a soundscape of a performative walk in Gravesend led by the artist Elspeth Penfold . This was part of REFLECT: Arts and Minds, 2019 a project commissioned by LV21 and Sounduk art. Artists were invited to create work which connected with this stretch of the Kent coastline in Gravesend. 
Local community, visitors and artists were invited to walk with us through Thread and Word and take part in the celebration of a mindful walking event through the knotting of ropes.
As you listen to the soundscape and watch the slideshow you are invited to knot a rope as a mindful interaction with the sounds you are listening to.
The walking event and soundscape were made with funding support from The Welcome Foundation and Arts Council England.
A Thread and Word Production by the artist Elspeth Penfold and invited artists

 The Listening Post

 Join us at The listening Post. A curated aural exhibition of short stories. Thirteen short stories (3 minutes approximately) read in the authors own voices set to sounds by the composer and musician Lucy Claire.

The authors include :Jess Kidd ,Christina Lovey,  Owen Lowery,  Sonia Overall , Peggy Riley , and Philip Whiteley, Helen Atkinson, Susan Emm , Amanda Jones, Sue McClymont,  Elizabeth Scrase
A curated aural exhibition of short stories. Join us at WAF in your Living Room. If you can, listen with headphones and be transported through sounds and words.

A Thread and Word Production by the artist Elspeth Penfold and Lucy Claire.