In my artist practice, walking plays a central and integral role in a cyclic process of walking > informing making > informing walking and so on. In this post, I look back over some of the artist responses I have made so far based on my wanderings across the Mosses and identifying some trajectories or pathways towards more substantive work.
Most of my walks to date, have resulted in some work back in my studio in Shrewsbury. The work is based on observations and materials that I gather on site. These include photographs, drawings, tracings, rubbings of surfaces, sound and video recordings, and physical materials such as found objects and plant materials. Maps and the lines, boundaries and shapes found within the landscape also feature in my work.
Sometimes, the walk is the event in itself, so much like Richard Long might make interventions or simply record the route, then I may not retain any tangible material that “represents” the walk other than some form of map or notation to record where I walked. Even here though, my experience of the walk is influenced by prior research and studies of work made in the studio. Sensory observations can be prompted by an awareness of what it is that I might find or indeed specifically what I am seeking. Sharing of this form of art walk is not possible except in a mediated, indirect way through further work made later. But it is important to keep a space for these solitary walks and to try and make a deeper engagement with the landscape.
Some of my earliest work in 2017, started as sketchbook studies and took shape as an artist book documenting a walk from Whixall to Bettisfield, which you can read about here.
Whilst I am interested in the wildlife on the Mosses, my aim is not particularly to rely on photographs or recordings of what I see. The fabulous work of Stephen Barlow does this far more beautifully than I could ever achieve. My main interest is in drawing attention to the multitude of entanglements between the human and more-than-human, animate and inanimate, organic and inorganic.
The array of objects I found at the car breakers yard, my “Shropshire hoard”, have inspired several works in painting and printmaking.
Using materials taken directly from the landscape is a line of enquiry I am exploring. So far this has involved making marks using materials gathered on site, and more recently creating dyes and pigments.
I have also made paper with reeds and bog cotton:
These diverse works are pathways to further works exploring the theme of human and more-than-human entanglement in the landscape. They are starting points in the collaborative project with Kim V. Goldsmith.
Kim is an artist working in digital media and immersive sensory installations. To complement the above works in traditional 2D media, I have made a number of sound and video recordings during my walks on the Mosses. These may link more readily with Kim’s work.
I will write more about the collaborative process in future posts. Ordinarily, I would commence work with another artist by walking with them, since walking creates a space for dialogue and sharing thoughts whilst moving through a stream of chance encounters and stimuli. The particular rhythm of walking means this cannot be easily recreated in any other way. The nature of the remote encounters set up across the world by Arts Territory Exchange, is such that the development of ideas must progress in more isolated and discrete steps, interspersed with periods of reflection, research and experimentation.
Kim and I recognised quite early on in discussions that water was going to be a prominent theme in the work. A regular feature in our respective practices, water is a core issue for both the Mosses and Macquarie Marshes. With that in mind, I have been given access to groundwater monitoring data by Natural England, and I have begun investigating a number of ideas using visuals from the data and converting data into sounds. I am hopeful that this work can cast new light on the importance of scientific monitoring of sensitive environments.