Continuing the walk from my previous post I leave Cow Bridge and carry on up the track away from the river, a woman is timing herself running up the steep hill and back again, we have a brief chat, she belongs to Todmorden Harriers and is preparing for a run up Whernside, a mountain in the Yorkshire Dales. She asks me if I am an artist, I stammer that I’m in the researching phase and briefly tell her about an exhibition I’m part of at Bankfield Museum that opens in November.
Even though I have been an artist for 16 years I still struggle with identity in public, always with the expectation that others will be critical and I will have to defend myself. Old anxieties die hard. Further up I come across a circular mirror which feels like a magic eye in the forest, a mystical survelliance camera, blind, yet reflecting back a warped sense of reality. A few years ago I had a part-time job looking at security footage and the cameras skewed the view with their wide angled lens. I begin to wonder how being under surveillance affects our behaviour, like particles that react with the observer effect, we internalise the cameras and self censor, it is like a global panopticon increasing our worries about getting things wrong and being criticised.
At the top there is the remains of an old chapel with an adjoining tiny graveyard. I think about how traces of the songs may be in the psyche of the surrounding rocks. I went to the National Science and Media Museum at Bradford https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/wonderlab a few months ago and in the Wonderlab area was able to hear a tune through biting on a piece of metal. I wonder if you could pick vibration up from the lintels around the chapel door? I keep coming back to sound….
I find a pair of glasses that someone has placed on the gate post. I wonder when the owner realised they were missing. Did they have a row with their partner for making them rush? Who picked them up? I try them on, my vision is blurred, the spectacles are heavy, the lens thick, I imagine a man’s swarthy skin, a grey greasy bang hanging over the lens, cheese and pickle sandwiches on white.
I continue until I reach the waterfall then carry on back down the track and into Hebden Bridge. I meet a few people I know but when it is unexpected I forget names, one it takes me three days to remember. Back on the canal I pass some graffiti on a crumbling wall, a collision of old and new.
Back at the van I spend more time under the bridge looking at the tiles.
I’ve decided that I will keep on walking, collecting images and information until ideas begin to form. I have just installed an exhibition and need some space and time to drift so that the next piece of work can emerge.
This cannot be rushed.
Last week I went to Touchstones Gallery in Rochdale and saw an amazing exhibition by Rachael Chewlow, a walking artist who transforms the embodied experience of walking into abstract paintings and drawings. https://link4life.org/arts-heritage/exhibitions/342-rachael-clewlow-my-paths-are-my-ideas-of-imagination I liked her process of recording visual information by describing what she had seen then coding this written information into colour. This is a way of abstracting the experience, I found this useful and a different way of extracting the essence of an experience without having to draw exactly what I have seen.
I am thinking more about process and how I interact with the walk. I did begin to record my walks on Walkmeter app about a month ago. This app records the map of the route covered. I was interested in how these shapes would look all draw out on a local OS map. The app also collects distance and time, information that I will collate, but I’m not yet sure how. I think I will research more walking artists.