In a continuing series throughout the duration of The Walking Encyclopaedia, we'll be highlighting, daily, the works of three 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.
#16 - Blake Morris - Memory Palace Walks
Memory palaces are my primary way of documenting walks. Based on an ancient
Greek technique that uses the strength of human spatial memory to record and retrieve memories, memory palaces are not simply a recording of memory, they are an embodiment. One remembers through visualizing a walk in space,
and depositing symbolic renderings of memories in different imagined locations. The memory palaces I have built are based in real locations (New York, San Francisco, Fresno, and London) and shown to the public through a
walk. Memory palaces are semi-permanent, public installations, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to those willing to imagine them.
the subject memorizes the layout of some building, or the arrangement of shops on a street, or any geographical entity which is composed of a number of discrete loci. When desiring to remember a set of items the subject literally ‘walks’ through these loci and commits an item to each one by forming an image between the item and any distinguishing feature of that locus. Retrieval of items is achieved by ‘walking’ through the loci, allowing the latter to activate the desired items
For more information on memory palaces, or to set up an appointment to view one, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
#17 - Bram Arnold - Walking Home - Infinite Edition
St. Gallen has been a story I have carried with me my whole life. Home was a question mark. My father’s death had brought me closer to my place of birth and throughout my MA I was getting closer to exploring these aspects of my life.
Nostalgia, home, a sense of belonging, and a desire to dream are all universal facets of human life though, and through this personal exploration I sought to touch on these interests.
Walking Home was a simple prospect; to walk from my current place of residence back to my place of birth in Switzerland. The research and performative installation that included sculpture, writing, performance, photography, found objects and memorabilia was contained within a small wooden hut that I designed and built in homage to St. Gallus, the Irish monk who, in 641AD strayed from his pilgrimage route and set up camp in the vicinity of Switzerland that is now St. Gallen. The famous rococo abbey and library stand in his honour.
In 2011 I began a practice-based PhD using the Walking Home project as a focus. This has recently received funding from University of the Arts Falmouth. The project has developed an ongoing body of work that includes a written blog available athttp://walkinghomebta.wordpress.com , a series of performance works entitled Fondue, 15 postcards sent in duplicate whilst on the journey, and a piece developed for Deptford X 2010 entitled Cake/Talk/Cake
Walking Home: Infinite Edition A work in progress in perpetuity
I invite you to take this text away and edit it in any way you choose. Edited texts are to be returned to Airspace gallery or via email to the artist when finished. You are invited to underline, cut out, rearrange or otherwise highlight any text you deem worthy of your attention. The edited texts will then be added to the film throughout the period of this exhibition.
Thank you kindly,
Please return edits to:
AirSpace Gallery, 4 Broad Street, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 4HL
Bram Thomas Arnold, 42A The Old Surgery,
Church Street, Falmouth, Cornwall. TR11 3EF A PDF is available upon request from:
A story I have carried with me my whole life. Home was a question mark. St. Gallus, an Irish monk, strayed from his pilgrimage route and set up camp in the 6th century. Asleep in Farningham woods, I sat there amidst the large mosquitoes. I am not an expert at this, this is not a holiday. It is hard work. I woke up alive and reasonably well. I had flapjack for breakfast, as I had had it for dinner, pointed myself out of the forest and down the hill. London seemed a distant memory.
I wake in the campsite cold. I wake in the campsite nervous. Later I walk out of Carrefour having collected the necessary. The steep slope south out of town towards the woodlands on the horizon, my direction being south, southeast. An old lady speaks to me for some time even though I’ve explained that I do not understand her.
There are no hedgerows here dividing the grains, just differing bands of colour and texture. I stare at a herd of hairy cattle who are staring at me. The sky above seems to stretch out forever like watching armies march over a plain. The cavalry charge in before nightfall and spots of rain patter down. This is the wilderness of Northern France: there is not a village in all of France that did not lose a son at Verdun. Bar-le-duc has a street named The Sacred Way, supply line to Verdun for its long four years of torment. An old photograph, truck after truck after truck marks the start.
Along the canal and into a downpour, my pedometer ticking away, I walked off with 3 hardboiled eggs in my pocket and a large lump on my back. Large helicopters swooped low to the ground, beneath the horizon that barely existed. At 3pm the rain swept across me, my general direction still presently being roughly a quarter of the horizon ‘that way’. Pristine country that promised tiny tracks and days of fields. In a pine wood, not 40 metres square I slept that night, safe from everything.
This really was nowhere, tiny towns, fields of wheat, clouds and the occasional barn. All day. I found myself lounging in the heavily decorated graveyards of these small French Villages, Somme Vesle, Poix, Moivre, Charmont the landscape was not forthcoming. I collapsed under an apple tree that wasn’t quite in someone’s orchard and wasn’t quite in someone’s field either, everything has changed a great deal and is however still the same.
The first day after a rest is always a painful measure of ones abilities. Baking myself along the banks of the canal, a little nap after 7km. The dawn came up sunny heavy thunder swept in and was hanging around like a drunk in the vicinity of a pub. Adjusting my boots at another stone slab trees with swooping swallows, I rest awhile perched on the corner of my coat on the moss of years that clings to the rock. Walking does not feel like travelling in the same way airports and train stations do. It feels more deliberate or more free, you are perpetually just going for a walk, not crossing a country, that seems too incomprehensible for a footstep to understand. The landscapes arrive in manageable chunks here.
All that passes by me are tractors and birds. Occasionally the same one sweeps back and forth, changing its wagon with each passing visit. Another village comes, and goes. A farmhand, a fork in the road. An elderly lady at her door, two cats. Everything else is breeze and rain droplets, I creep towards the horizon in the rains wake. I am so tired. I am so tired of the rain. I am so tired of walking, in the rain. What are the dreams of the people, who live out here I wonder, in these tiny villages, somewhere dry perhaps, to sleep. Nowhere. And nowhere arrives.
In heavy fog ones world shrinks, on the edge of mine a hut in the midst of the forest appeared. Eating bread and cheese. It was 8pm, I just wanted somewhere safe to sleep. I camped in the forest, anxiously, the rain still coming down.
I’ve been sleeping in a tent for 8 nights, traversing a world of tiny lost villages and deep heavy forests alive. Adjusting myself for presentation to the world I sit on a nearby tree stump. A dry, sloping little cluster of tall skinny pine trees, track overgrown with grasses and buttercup leads to a small mountain stream. Thirty minutes from being asleep in sleeping bag to packed and ready to go.
The pockets made by leaves are already a deep azure, a sky blue of the most welcome shade. It’s Saturday evening. The 10am bells to chime me back to civilisation. Dotted with churches which all keep their own time. The further through France I walk, the more it seems to stretch itself before me. At Sepvigny I rest in the welcome shade of two oaks and the company of the Virgin Mary. Today is long, time shrinks when you least want it to and has the ability to draw out forever when you need it the least.
The road turns to switchbacks as we climb the hill together, the tarmac and I, the cacophonous tones of the valleys midday bells which seem to clang in no particular order, for no particular time, merely for the sheer pleasure of ringing. A botanist walking the trail of St. Jacques de Compostelle, is out there still. He told me about the velvet dragonflies that flew round-abouts or of which plants in the hedgerows one could consume.
Virgin Mary’s and fading chugging tractors. The odd cow. My feet shed their skins like snakes. A short train ride to St. Die des Vosges carried the weight of disappointment enhanced the loneliness of it all. It rained all night. In my mind my failure to not walk all the way to Switzerland but I am too interested in failure, because failure is deeper than success. Failure is what we learn from mostly, the loneliness kicking in already.
I woke up that morning in a forest whose floor was scattered with the bright orange slugs. The first village of the day was further than I thought it and this was the way of it all day. Everything stretched. Eat a bit of chocolate. Lift up pack again. I scrambled from scrap of shade to scrap of shade. I had passed a sign post for Charmes and blood trickled out of my heel.
Rain rolled in upon the mountain town, crisp flat riverbed rolled through the middle. Corbusier’s only factory is still, only a factory. I escape at midday and walk off the depression. Curves I have to climb. One can’t imagine that you’ll ever be able to get anywhere by doing it. You do not visit heavily visited places. You drift through forgotten fields and empty villages. The river running off to my right, with the railway line and road tied to it by the tight valleys and mountain architecture. My road clambers over a little lip that leads us into another valley, a sudden gash of space, deep cut, split with a gushing fast little stream down the middle. Steep hillsides painted in pine forest green.
Highways forced into position by mountain fissures. A fleet of children poured out of one end on the lunch bell, and scampered round to the playground behind. And then, after lunch, the gentle sounds of communal singing. So sudden, so brashly steep.
The shared silence of a picnic bench with a girl. She used a grass blade for a bookmark, picked wild strawberries. I just sat there. Col du mandray will forever be that girl, that silence. I like to think of her as a permanent feature of the Col, traipsing through the last passages of an unwanted novel and waiting for the strawberries to fruit again.
So many days to catch up on. Odd ripples form on the lake. I sat there for the usual hour ritual, listening to the forest, a deep bed of pine needles. The path switch backed through farmyards still discovering Saturday morning. Boughs heavy with crimson whilst looking up. Solitary jet black beetles, line the path the size of butter beans, the electricity of their underbellies all the way to Germany. Tourists spill from tour buses and I join them for coffee.
The path moved me back into the forest, deep pines. naturally formed and all over the place, with life beneath them, other plants and mosses, deep spongy objects. All the waters begin to flow east to the Rhine and the German border rather than into the Meuthe and France. My shoes occasionally vanish into deep piles of gloop. I overtake them with the pace and efficiency striding on, boundless, endless energy. I have never felt so in charge of my physical capabilities.
I sit now, on a precipice above Lac Blanc. I stood, or more likely sat, in awe. The mountains fell away, sheer faces to the deep blue, cold hard lake. Germany hidden and revealed here and there, and
definitely there. Real now. Alpine flowers scattered the fields of my descent, here are vast epics, half barns half houses dug into the hill.
Above a precipice, staring at Germany through the haze. Realise you are as inconsequential as the last human, as important as the first. Realise there are so many people doing so many things, that everything comes to matter as much as everything else. Or as little.
I had to be prepared for this journey to be completely inconsequential. For it not to matter at all, for it not to change anything, for it not to be noticed. When you have discovered that everything you thought mattered so much matters not at all you obtain a kind of peace usually only offered by the grave, or the open sky, the blue of distance, the joy of presence, that the moment you are in is everything. So easy to recall, so impossible to describe. I slept in a pine forest, steep and rooted. I ate soup, pinecones digging into shoulder blades, roots wrapped around hips.
I dragged myself on a small lane round the nearby peaks to get back to the path. A pile of gnomes in one garden, a pile of vegetables in the other. Music was the hardest thing, not having music, or the time to sit and listen to it properly. The path and I kept climbing, light streaming in from the ever- widening sky. To this next crest, two balloons deflated from a party tied to a lamppost, bright yellow flowers dancing in a wind only my face could feel.
I press on and nibble precious items from a cherry tree. High boughs cast in deep shades of purple. My map confuses me here, and so many cherry trees. I have reached the final peak of the Vosges and they have built houses all over it. The paths multiply under beautiful canopies of woodland, tempting pine beds and open stretches of broadleaf. I sit on a bench here for a while, perpetually glad to let the floor carry my rucksack for a while, text England to let it know I’m ok.
Trying to figure out whether the hills in the distance were part of Germany or part of France. A hazy celebratory zeal, there is something about traversing a mountain range that entirely trumps walking across a plain all day. Yet this was a long way. Too far it turned out in the end, one of those errors of scale and confidence. Yesterday I walked from France to Germany. I was the only pedestrian in the whole place.
In this heat the Rhine flows the wrong way. I burn precious clothes in a tumble dryer crossing little streams and out through the suburbs. I watch a Crane sweep the sky from the deep heat grass of a field, my fingers ripe red with Cherry juice. I walk out of town at midday, through its centre and out east.
Flat heat here, dead breeze. He grunts a bit and smiles, just points east. Neuf Brisach is the border town with Germany. I just walked in. Across the Rhine, the border, no borders anymore. I climb through Vineyards in the heights and lose myself in its veins. I find Frieburg and sleep there for three days.
The mind stuttered and stumbled like my feet. The compound adjectives that stretch like the paths that trace off to the left and right, I sit down for a spot of shade and listen to woodpeckers crack their way through the forest. Little baby grapes so eager under the sun. French bread, German soil. The hills climbing off to the south and east, steep and cloud topped. Overlooking the Black forest, with French bread.
A fork of lightening and immediately every remembered fork of lightening I have ever seen, I walk the medieval streets and lose myself blissfully among a dusty pile of vinyl. I don’t take any photographs at all, I buy a pair of vintage shoes.
Fork lightening strikes the streets, the heavy rains cause the shallow river to take on swift personality changes I soak myself in the warm storm. I just want to do it for a while, without having to think how I will later account for every second. There is no documentation of my shirt, slick and dripping, or the bike I rode around on, no evidence of my attempts at speaking German, no documentation of a conversation I had with an elderly lady in the forest the day I walked out of town.
I am tired of living with the insect kingdom. The weather becomes clockwork. A rush of sun till 12pm, a rumble of thunder by 1pm and a full storm by 3pm. Bright sun again by 6pm. A ruin in the forest, a giant thunderstorm, and by 5pm I can see Switzerland for the first time in 22 years, fork lightening striking its distant hills.
The weather spent the day being fairly threatening, I spent the day wondering how far I would get and where I would sleep. The clouds rolled up and down the hills occasionally enveloping everything in a dense fug, the air was thick with bells resonating off the hills. The first moments of uneasiness above the rapidly moving cloud line. Swathes of dead trees mingle with the living down the valley and the ghost of Caspar David Friedrich is everywhere.
The run of peaks off to the southwest from here, incomprehensible, atmospheric, deep with riches, no thunder today, too high for that humidity to climb. The path is lined by poles three metres high, painted bright colours, I try and imagine the depths of winter snow. Empty and silent. Morning rose clear blue, and at 10am I warmed myself on an alpine bench like a lizard. Day-trippers vanished into the hills here and there.
As I descended the temperature rose, the clouds broke and the humidity built the forest, whose heavy silence was augmented with the deep subtle humming of a thousand bees, busy amongst the canopy. I sat a few times on the hillside, and watched the weather changing. Some cows watched me eat an apple. And I watched the rain come in, fishing boats bobbed with hoods. The path kept on down the lakeside, occasionally veering off to swing round some private boatyard. The next day was officially a day off; I didn’t even have any laundry to do. It was almost like being on holiday. I ate yoghurts.
The clockwork weather is winding up again, heavy clouds rumble darkly over the way. Descending off the obvious routes down into sections of forest that feel primeval, that feel like they are just mine. I am so alone, I am so happy here. The heat is gentle under the shade. I sing out scraps of songs that hang in my head. The stream beside me increases its size, I have followed it from its source, the first raindrops fall, the first thunders crack.
The borderline of a thousand thousand acres of solid forest, the first field for days, I eat wild strawberries looking out across to a horizon that must surely stretch to Switzerland.
At this final field, this final day of Germany, crossing into Switzerland the land becomes arable again and it feels like an accumulation of everything I have passed these days, the arable lands of northern France and southern England, the same crops, the fields of barley and wheat.
I sort of just walk over the border. I just walk in. I walk into Switzerland. The sky is bluer here, the water clearer, the fish in the water look happier, the farmers smile, the dogs don’t bark, the shade seems cooler, the cherries more scarlet. And the hills, steeper. But for this thundery haze from this small peak I would be able to see the highest peaks in three countries. I sit down and I sit down and I sit down, and I sit. Walking flattens nations, disempowers them. I just walk in.
I eat handfuls of cherries bursting with juice. I watch an eagle circle the sky from here across to Germany. Back and forth, it rises up through broadleaf, birches and beeches, oaks, the dappled light glints off my sweat-drenched forearms. I have to down tools several times, using my rucksack as a seat. The peak of the hill is still crowned with trees, no breaks for a view,
This forest track turns into a road and this road turns into Schaffhausen, I pass through its outskirts, little kids with uniform rucksacks make their way home from school, its that time of day, it has not rained a drop.
Throughout the process of this walk I have been in communication with a family I have never met, the family who currently live at the house I was born into in Engelburg on the outskirts of St. Gallen, named for St. Gallus. I have been walking home.
Bram Thomas Arnold is an artist who started with walking and kept going, into performance, drawing, installation, writing and trans-disciplinary amalgamations of these practices.
He has performed widely in the UK and abroad, alongside artists such as Susan Hiller and Bobby Baker at Beaconsfield Gallery in London, and Emma Leach at Tate Britain.
In 2012 his practice took him as far afield as Uzbekistan, Georgia, Lithuania and Belgium where he participated in Sideways 2012 alongside long-term occasional collaborator Eleanor Wynne Davis.
In 2011 he commenced a practice-based PhD at Falmouth University and relocated there from London in 2012. His practice-based PhD focuses upon a walk he made from London to Switzerland in 2009 when he had his first solo show in London at Shed and a Half Gallery in Shoreditch.
He runs a weekly radio show on Source FM from his base in Falmouth where he blends his passion for the arts with an eclectic musical exploration of the world.
Forthcoming in 2013 are an event at End Of The Road Festival, with whom he has been developing interventionary art projects for 5 years and a solo show at Juraplatzgallery in Biel, Switzerland.
Website - http://bramthomasarnold.com/index.php?/news/news/
#18 - Bridget Sheridan - Le chemin de la Liberté (The Trail of Freedom)
This silk scarf accompanied me during my 4 days in the footsteps resistant, escaped from France, Jews and others fleeing Nazism.
The writing is that of John Souque, escaped from France, a witness who accompanied me through the mountains.
The images are photographs, relics Broué Paul, a former escaped 90 years has entrusted to me. It shows the barns where hiding the elusive, young escapees resistant, Paul's mother Broué with his bike - women and cycling are both part of the resistance network Seix.
Writing and images are clear and transparent, as if they were about to disappear. Yet they survive. They accompany me through this path memory.
Every day I sewed a thread through my career. Thread its way through the veil between the memory of the Path to Freedom. A thread like our blood - red wire also bringing life to every corner of our body through the network of veins. The network is also the paths that run through the mountains, footprints of our ancestors. Each loop of my my thread looks like not our march towards freedom.