Man walks deep in thought
His path absorbed by the ground
Man thinks deep in walk
On the moon man walked
Some small steps, some giant leaps
Meanwhile, down to earth
Man breathes many breaths
A thousand species expire
Alive to be pleased
With the sun behind
Footprints grow ever longer
Is this rainbow’s end?
Clouds form, thunder rolls
The man walks into the wind
Sunset, no rain falls
Eyes streaming, breath short
Dry river meanders by
Walk into the sun
Walking as field study as performance as artwork as ‘life as a journey’ metaphor, through observation and reflection - slow
thinking – ‘making time as a matter of urgency’ to generate dialogue through
improvisation, conversation and experiential knowledge with a local guide(s) - the
non-expert expert - using interpretation,
semi-structured inquiry, indeterminacy and being ‘lost’ to explore, place as living organism, ‘commons’ as a right and phenomenological
drawing – being sensitive to the way things draw themselves – towards eco-economic
value systems and questions of the
personal and collective at scale and participating in spatial planning, to
points’ as places to intervene in the system.
I perceive our ability to survive climate change as the enactment of an
evolutionary narrative. My interdisciplinary research attempts to integrate
quantitative and qualitative methodologies into the creative process and this
informs my practice; to generate poetic dialogues that resonate as creative
interventions in pursuit of aesthetic diversity to develop communities of inquiry
for an eco-centric culture.
map becomes seeing
crystallise and then dissolve
time becomes being
Walking has played an important part in my ecological arts practice and arts –led, practice-based research since 2004 when
I initiated A Walk On The Wild Side (2004/9). The initial
programme of nine walks in Manchester began with the fact that Climate Change
public discourse rarely mentions the dependence of
migrating species on ecological connectivity. Increasing urban dwelling and development exacerbates the
situation, so as an expanded urban wildlife aesthetic, this ecological artwork (AWOTWS), explored
conflicts between nature and culture as a consequence of Climate Change. The
project synthesized natural and social science methodologies with arts
practices to further question the lack of cultural diversity and biodiversity
in spatial planning policies (Mayer Harrison & Harrison 1998). AWOTWS also
addressed the decline in experiential knowledge (Lakoff & Johson 2002) and increasing
dependency on remote electronic data.
AWOTWS developed twelve filmed, arts-led, field study walks to promote
observation and reflection among the participants. Each film presented narratives for an
eco-centric culture that consider Manchester as a living organism and an
eco-sculptural form within the Mersey Basin. The art form becoming the
methodology, a dialogical intervention, an extended performance and empirical
inquiry – ‘a transformative reflective practice’ (Habermas 1972, Kester 1998).
In 2007, three of the films were edited to produce one 18-minute film for exhibition in
the BBC’s Breathing Places Festival on the ‘Big Screen’ in Manchester (est:
35,000 audience); an eco-arts exhibition at Taipei Artists Village and the
MIRIAD China Tour (Beijing, Xiamen, Guongzou).
AWOTWS received Arts Council England ‘seed funding’, promotion by
Architecture Week 2006 and Manchester Science Festival 2007. Presentations about the project included:
a keynote lecture to the Israeli Eco-Arts Forum, University of Tel Aviv (2005),
funded by the British Council; refereed papers to Art, Nature, Culture,
Washington State University, (2005), Bergen National Academy for the Arts (2004)
and Sustainability City, Urbis Manchester (2007).
AWOTWS was developed with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Enterprise, Urbis, Mancunian schools, environmental and community organisations.
Subsequently, I applied the Wild Walks form to two Climate
Change/river based projects, Rivers from
the Future (2007) in Mid-Pennine Lancashire and Tide Turns Waters Dance in Tamshui, Taiwan. A programme of walks in Liverpool, Walk The Talk To Forest, have been
initiated for my Trees of Grace (2009
cont.) project to consider a thousand-year long project to create an ‘analogue
forest’ for the whole of the Mersey Basin with ginkgo biloba as the ‘keystone’
species of tree.
Walk the Talk to Many Futures will further
my own practice by building on previous walking strategies and applying them to
a European mountain cultural and geophysical context. I hope to use this
experience to gain critical feedback into this form and process of
walking-as-art from the particular set of participants the Summer School will
offer. I hope the participants
will share this rare time and space to listen to themselves, to each other and
to the environment that they embody.
‘At the heart of embodied realism is our physical engagement with an environment in an ongoing series of interactions. There is a level of physical interaction in the world at
which we have evolved to function very successfully, and an important part of
our conceptual system is attuned to such functioning. The existence of such “bas-level concepts” – characterized
in terms of gestalt perception, mental imagery, and motor interaction – is one
of the central discoveries of embodied cognitive science.’
The incorporation of a simple form of Tai Chi Chuan/Qigung exercise will extend that experience by drawing energy from within the walkers
and drawing energy into the walkers, thereby extending the physical language
and the art of walking. As a whole
system, the event will be a form of ‘ecopoiesis’,
the process of ‘ecopraxis’
and learning through ‘ecopedagogy’
Walk the Talk to Many Futures will be
appropriate for all levels of ‘average’ fitness and ability (i.e. endurance and
stamina should not be an issue).
Access will be dependent on the local terrain, but is intended to be
appropriate to the widest possible participation.
A local guide(s) will lead the spatial/physical way. The artist will lead the
inquiry for participants to discover questions through the walking process,
about themselves and about their potential futures.
Practicing a simple form of Tai Chi Chuan/Qigung will act as a ‘warm-up’ (energise) and ‘warm-down’ (meditative release) to help
prevent physical stress and injury. It will, also, promote internal and
external sensitivity and connectivity.
Time will be taken to stop for interpretation and to observe, reflect, gaze, sketch, photograph, examine, ponder, and of course discuss what we encounter.
Research is being conducted into the particular cultural, geophysical and ecological characteristics of the Summer School location. You
are invited to contribute any knowledge you have about Gobrovo, the surrounding
area and the people.
 LAKOFF, G. & JOHNSON, M., 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its
Challenge to Western Thought.
Basic Books, New York pp90
 HALEY, D., 2001, March 2001: Reflections on the Future – “O brave new world”: a change
in the weather. In ed. REMESAR. A., Waterfronts
of Art I, art for Social Change, University of Barcelona, CER POLIS,
Spain www.ub.es/escult/1.htm and CD ROM
 Ibid., HALEY, D. 2001.