The Walking Encyclopaedia's Walking Artists of the Day - Jess Rotas, Jessica Hebden, Jo Dacombe, Joey Behrens, John Levett (Crossing Lines Group) and Jonathan Polkest

In a continuing series throughout the duration of The Walking Encyclopaedia, we'll be highlighting, daily, the works of several practitioners who employ the walk within their practice. Each of the highlighted artists and artworks were submitted for exhibition to The Walking Encyclopaedia. In each case alongside their artist statement, a link to the artist's website is provided for further exploration.

The Walking Encyclopaedia is a co-production between AirSpace Gallery and the Walking Artists Network.

#49 - Jess Rotas - 'S Word on the Street

website - escue-me.webege.com

Up and down the streets of the UK, underfoot and overstepped, are hordes of heroically monikered soldered soldier manhole militias. ‘S word on the Street adds soundtrack to these unsung heroes of the gutter: Centurions, Trojans, Challengers, Dreadnoughts, Saracens, Warriors, Britons, Valiants, Chevrons, Dauntless, Victors, Silent Knights and Chieftains. Each image is a different manhole from multiple different walks of UK life/streets, with additional footage from some of their European counterparts: here, collected and collated, the spoils of many years' walks. Watch your step.

I am a Bristol-based multi-modal writer, working primarily as a collector, collator and installation maker. My eclectic roll call of projects include fortune telling: Message in a Boggle (Arnolfini, Rolling Stage, Made in Roath, Shambala, private events); Mend●a●city: an interactive text labyrinth in film, words, images, sounds and string (St Paul’s crypt, Bristol); ‘S word on the Street, a manhole militia movie (Arnolfini, Spike Island BYOB, Cardiff BYOB, various locations); an audio story in Situations’ Missorts app; I was a Spoon-fed funding recipient for my interactive laser-sensor project, Through the Lives of the Looking Glass (The Looking Glass), a project I was later recommissioned to reimagine and remake for Bristol’s open studios 2013. I also have a sideline in modified word games.

My practice predominantly revolves around the present, prevalent, but often overlooked and underheard in everyday life. I like the wonder of the wander – what can be gleaned from the circumstantially glanced. I work with found objects and am a story collector. My work has comprised of string, words, images, sounds, film, toilet roll, lasers, furniture and fog. Fundamentally I consider myself to be an eclectic collector and re-reader.


#50 - Jessica Hebden - Why Do You Let Them Get In Such A State / Just Throw Them Out

Why do you let them get in such a state?’ 2014 (left) Digital print and chewing gum on newsprint (will degrade)

‘Just throw them out’ 2013-14 (right) Oil on board

Walking can be viewed as a meditative act, nevertheless there is also the possibility of a destructive element in its repetitiveness. Seeing pilgrims at Fatima in Portugal with bloodied feet or knees from the spiritual need to walk forces the consideration of what drives us ever forward? People make a variety of pilgrimages of varying import and for many reasons, but when we travel a physical distance it can aid us to traverse a mental space as well. However in the pursuit of this, either deliberate or absently, the journey, foot step by footstep is sometimes to our detriment. These shoes are repetitively documented in many forms using the duplication of the screen print process or the meditative application of layer after layer of paint to a board. Both actions allow for the replication of action, step by step. These shoes are documented from a walk that went on too long, resulting in their ultimate disintegration    


#51 - Jo Dacombe - A Walk Through The Underworld et al

website - http://jodacombe.blogspot.co.uk/

A Walk Through the Underworld officially launched

My collaborative Sidelong project A Walk Through the Underworld is now officially launched!

We present a unique art walk exploring hidden chambers deep beneath our feet. Rediscover the caves of Nottingham through art interventions, fabricated objects and storytelling. This participatory experience explores some of these mysterious spaces and creatively re-imagines what may have occurred in the secrecy of sandstone walls.

A Walk Through the Underworld resembles a treasure trail, alternating between underground and overground and revealing artistic surprises along the route. Exploring the notions of relics, we will present a series of objects of curiosity, encouraging all cave explorers to convey myths and fictionalise history. Bring along your own intriguing objects and share a peculiar story of Nottingham.

Working with Nottingham based writer, Wayne Burrows, the walk will unveil a fantastical parallel world, simultaneously based in history and imagination. Taking some inspiration from cave history, myths and legends, the walk is also fictitious, proving things aren’t always as they seem. The events will inspire a publication that will be released in December 2013.

The walk features a series of caves that are not usually publicly accessible including: Willoughby House’s circular wine cellar, Brewhouse Yard’s cave adjoining a cosmic ray laboratory and The Salutation Inn’s haunted chambers. We will explore the very unique identities of these environments which have served diverse and unexpected functions over the course of history. Join us in our exploration!

A Walk Through the Underworld is supported by Arts Council England, Nottingham Cave Survey, New Art Exchange, Writing East Midlands, and The Salutation Inn.

Inside A Box of Things

What's inside A Box of Things? The beautiful hands of Laura-Jade Klee show you what you'll find inside our box, created as a result of our imaginative cave tours, A Walk Through the Underworld.
Click here to visit LJ's blog and see the video.

Half Beech, 2013. Miles & Dacombe

Miles & Dacombe have led a number of walks which encourage participants to engage with their environment through art interventions, which are then documented on their joint blog undiscoverednetworks.blogspot.co.uk

     2 x A2 C-type prints, mounted on Dibond.  Intervention made around a copper beech tree discovered at an abandoned hotel during a walk in the Peak District and then wrapped in orange satin ribbon. 

Dream Walking, 2012. Sidelong.
     2 x A3 C-Type prints, mounted on foam board. Both portrait.

Image 1: Lacewing, 2012, Sidelong. Photo by Jo Dacombe
     Image 2: Wendy, 2012, Sidelong. Photo by Matthew Vaughan
A Night Walk created in Nottingham. Participants were given a map and a torch to explore dark back streets of Nottingham. Images cut from reflective material were hidden around the city, only visible when a torch light was shone upon them.

Jo Dacombe is an artist based in the East Midlands. Her interests include mapping, walking, connections, public space, modes of travel, change and sense of place.

Jo’s practice responds to places, the meaning of place and how people experience places as they move through them. Her walks both respond to existing phenomena and augment the experience. She uses installation, film, photography, fabricated objects, mixed audio, light, storytelling and creates books and maps.

Jo is currently collaborating with curator Laura-Jade Klée, practising as Sidelong, and with artist Carole Miles, as Miles & Dacombe.


#52 - Joey Behrens - Joey's House

website - https://www.facebook.com/girlwithhouseonherback

I walk.

I walk daily.

I walk to get where I need to go; to transition from one activity to another; to allow the rhythm of my thinking to settle into sync with the rhythm of my walking; to be in the world in a way that allows me to be a part of it, to experience not just the sights but the sounds, the smells, the textures of the surfaces surrounding me; to be steeped in a sense of a place; to gather the materials that form the foundation for the work that happens within my studio.

For 24 days in October and November 2012 walking also became the means by which I brought the work from within the studio out into the world. I carried a “House” or rather, a sculptural object made as a representation of the form and symbol of home everywhere I went. The sculpture was constructed from handmade paper wrapped around a thin wooden frame. The sculpture, roughly three-quarters of my size, was worn in a similar fashion to a backpack. It rested on top of the messenger bag I carried and eventually was fitted with straps for my arms to slip through. The gesture of walking through everyday life with a house on my back became a catalyst for conversation. Resulting in conversations that took place in a variety of locales and circumstances amongst diverse people.

I call this project Joey’s House and documentation of it has been gathered via a facebook page

Joey Behrens is currently completing her graduate studies in studio art at Ohio University’s School of Art + Design in the US. Her studio practice has long involved walking as a source of inspiration and a tactic utilized to uncover and connect to a sense of place. 


#53 - John Levett et al - A Loose Traverse


A Loose Traverse 
A Loose Traverse was created by The Crossing Lines Group.

Crossing Lines was formed in 2010 as a collaboration between the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths College and London Independent Photography — between photographers & researchers whose central interest is the urban situation, its constituents & its dynamics.

The group encourages innovative approaches to collaboration at distance, serendipitous encounters and accidental outcomes. It believes that everyone benefits from the sharing of supportive reactions to their work; that photography in itself, and in the service of a wider project, is a developmental and explorative process whichcan benefit from partnership with others; that experimental work which has no formal platform for presentation benefits from a sympathetic forum.

A Loose Traverse is one example of its practice.

Twenty-six members of the group walked London from the banks of the Thames to Edgeware; settling for a seemingly interminable time in the East End; losing the plot slightly towards the end but finishing with an heroic flourish at the north-western edge of Zone 4.
The idea is a simple one — start the walk at one point and walk, in any direction for as long as you choose; mail a map of your walk to the next in line. Next in line begins somewhere on the map and, for continuity, walks a part of the last walker’s route (one metre or one mile) and then branches off on a new route. And so it went. 

The photographic interpretation/representation of each participant’s walk, from the representational through the aesthetic to the developmental, was at their own discretion.

John Levett, convenor Crossing Lines Group, December 2013 

The originator of the project, Peter Luck, writes as follows:

No hay caminos, hay que caminar.

There is no path, only walking. There had been within the Crossing Lines Group a lot of discussion of ways of walking in the urban field, of the role of walking in coming to terms with urban space, of various practices one might collectively dub the ‘art walk’, and of the virtues of staying still and watching the changes in a space and its usage. Out of this I made a proposal that we undertake a walking project which could lead perhaps to some insight into these things (except the staying still) and perhaps also (in hope), to an enhanced understanding of the condition of London. This was to be exploratory both of method and of territory.

A game-plan was adopted: we would commence with one person’s walk which would be recorded in photographs which would be kept out of sight while a map prepared by that first person was passed to a second person who would walk a little of the first walk before branching off on their own and then repeating the hand-over process to the next walker until all had walked. There would then be a sharing of images and experiences and a working towards showing the traverse and perhaps its lessons. In the event, twenty-six people took part.

The way from here to there lies through somewhere else

A statement of the obvious and also, perhaps, of the essence of a traverse which is inherently directional and between points. Our traverse was to be loose in the sense that it would be improvised from a succession of independent walks, and so the totality of the path walked would not be pre-determined even if some individual walks were so. With very rapid handovers pitching the walkers into an area with no time for preparatory research, we relied instead on previous knowledge and personal responses to guide our path and our images. We are all guided more or less consciously by such promptings and the project was in part dedicated to uncovering their range and their capacity to reveal the city.

That range is clearly evident in the work shown here. Each of us has curated our own small space, representing our part of the traverse. If the variety of response is very evident, the spatial continuity of the traverse is less so, and the lessons remain to be drawn. The project now might appear as a celebration of the variety of its participants but that is only part of the story. Pressure of time has meant that the last stage is yet to come: learning from each others’ responses and drawing out some critique of the means of coming to terms with urban space and trying for that elusive enhanced understanding of the condition of London. There are (at the very least) some simple questions: why did we spend so long in the East End? Why no move outside zones 1 and 2? Why almost no industry, no governance, no housing of the wealthy, no river, and no suburbia at all? Is the urban simply an image-mine, or do we photograph to understand?

Peter Luck, originator A Loose Traverse, November 2013

John Levett is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Centre for Urban and Community Research in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

He works within the general field of Visual Urbanism and is convenor of The Crossing Lines Group — a collaboration between CUCR & London Independent Photography. He is co- ordinator of the Greenwich Satellite Group of London Independent Photography and was organizer of The London Villages Project 2011-12.

Crossing Lines encourages innovative approaches to distance collaboration. It promotes the belief that photography in itself, and in the service of a wider project, is a developmental and explorative process which can benefit from partnership with others. It provides a sympathetic & supportive forum for experimental and exploratory work with no formal platform for presentation.

His personal practice lies within photography and urban walking, the photographic archive and an exploration and representation of the concept of refractory memory. The made pieces that he derives from his walking are ‘objects of recognition’ — pieces that contain ‘remembrances’ of the detour; pieces that act as physical ‘aides-memoire’; sealed pieces that act as metaphors for commemorations fixed in inviolable evocation — keepsakes even.


#54 - Jonathan Polkest - Gothvos

This project involves the participant carrying a particular type and size token stone originating from a very specific location, (Mounts Bay, Penzance) to a place or situation of the participants choice, where upon placing the Stone in a specific location, it is photographed by the participant and left to remain on the site. The photograph of the Stone in its environment is put on the blog along with the participants account of the situation and their relationship with the placing of the object. A kind of Object Theatre that involves photography, walking (and other forms of travel) and contemplation. The stones have a geohistorical connection with Cornish History and Culture in that they are of a source where greenstone axes were quarried, the contemporary stones bear the Cornish Language inscription "Gothvos" meaning, information, wisdom or knowledge.


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