Lundy labyrinth

My interest in Labyrinths started when I set out on a pilgrimage from Wells to Glastonbury, with the set intention for the journey as Hope. The setting of an intention is the essence to both walking pilgrimage and labyrinths. Hope was in response to the fact that I was walking the pilgrimage in the summer of 2020 and the coronavirus was very much a focal point of society. My initial works around Labyrinth was when I used the the labyrinth and the Torr as an image for printing. Although this image worked as a print, I felt it did not offer any real tangible connection with the purpose of a labyrinth. Val Lupton quotes that ‘the point of a maze is find its centre. The point of a labyrinth is to find your centre’  How could you really experience a labyrinth from an image.

So I started to research the idea of creating a labyrinth and I chose Lundy Island as the specific site location. David Beech talks about site specificity when he refers to the work of Mona Hatoum, who creates work on the site and not in the studio. Beech in his youtube clip on ‘Art and Isolation’ (2020) refers to the fact that Hatoum finds “the location is usually the starting point”  The idea of the site for me was definitely the starting points as I came across an anecdote I had read in Gogerty, C., (2019) that shipwrecked soldiers used to create labyrinths to while away their time when wrecked. Shipwrecks were a common occurance on Lundy Island and I made a connection with the route from the Montague steps on the rugged west coast to the Old Light lighthouse. A path similar to Richard Long’s Line made whilst walking.

labyrinth on Lundy island

At the lighthouse I found some old builders rope and with some collaboration and an image on my phone of how to create a rope labyrinth, the three of us set to work to create a labyrinth. We found that we needed more rope than we had so we downsized the labyrinth and it was still an appropriate size to walk.

On finishing the labyrinth I and my fellow collaborators walked the labyrinth. When walking the labyrinth I found it easy to travel without much thought, which is ideal for mindfulness as you need to not focus on where you walk, but just simply put one foot in front of the other slowly. The site was was indeed a special place with 360 degrees of views; the prominence of the the 19C lighthouse plus the cemetery with all its island history, plus a medieval graveyard and views out to the Atlantic and to the mainland of North Devon and Cornwall. As I walked the labyrinth I really tuned into the senses – the feel of the fresh winter cold, the sound of the birds, the feeling of the ground beneath my feet, the smell of the crisp air washing in from the Atlantic ocean. 

As an aside I later discovered that Beacon hill the site of the lighthouse, maybe the place where pagans held sacred as a high hill nearer to the gods. Another reason for this site being perfect.

I added the photos on to a Labyrinth facebook group and received some positive feedback. It was suggested that the ability to select the space and place was important and maybe more so than just placing one in a specific location. This is one communication I found so inspiring.

Reflection

I believe this labyrinth concept is something I can develop, it appeals because of its mobility and collaborative nature. I also found that walking the labyrinth helped me experience the senses around the walk, as the slow nature of the walking helped calm my mind and find focus. However I do feel that maybe labyrinths in themselves are not my. single focus, but the way it sets an intention and aim to help one find their centre is one of interest.

References

Art and Isolation (2020). Youtube. [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjBb1psf3eA. [Accessed on 13/03/2021]

Gogerty, C., (2019). Beyond the Footpath: Mindful Adventures for Modern Pilgrims. Hachette UK.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/mona-hatoum-2365/who-is-mona-hatoum

The sight of the walker

A reflection on William Sharpes article – Part One

This is the first part summary taken from William Sharpes paper in Walking Bodies (2020), on reading the paper, I started to find alignment with my work which Sharpe (2020) talked about.

The first statement Sharpe ponders is whether;

‘walking art offers its proponents a choice; do I make my body visible in the work, as a painter might, so that my audience may have a sign of the walker, or shall I shape my work in such as way that the audience, perhaps as participant, sees something else ‘ thought through my eyes’ as Joyce puts it’ (page139).

In my work on the Lost and Forgotten Heinkels, I did place a photograph of myself in the work, but during a tutorial with Richard Webb, it was recommended that I don’t include photos of myself but rather let the reader/viewer explore.

Sharpe (2020) also suggests that art critics and historians desire images of walks more than the artists ‘the fact that it (the walk) happened is not merely enough’. Sharpe continues to suggest that; with artists such as ‘Long and Fulton it is not the length of the walk but the strength of the idea animating from it that counts in making provocative, illuminating art’ Sharpe argues that is the fact that there is a strong alliance between concept and image. This is very much where I have placed my walks and mini-pilgrimages, they are based on ideas rather than long walks. This can be demonstrated in my work of the Granite orthostats, where I have associated the walk with the image and in the Lost and Forgotten Heinkels where the concept of the walk was as important as the walk itself , in fact it was the concept that created the walk.

Sharpe also draws on the performance concept of walking such as Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s The lovers (1988) and Francis Alys’ work ‘sometimes something leads to nothing’ which both have political and social impact more than the walk itself. Sharpe asks a question whether visual artifacts generated by the walk are incidental or integral to the art-walk itself. Does the art reside in the walk, the walker or the documentation? This is something that I too have mulled over, how do I document a walk or indeed do I need to?

Sharpe highlights that a growing number of practitioners, have argued that walking art needs to challenge ocular-centrism to pay less attention to objects that can be visually consumed without engaging other senses. Linking walks and place with the senses, lies at the core of my research proposal so this is something where I need to take a deeper dive into. Sharpe also recalls that ‘a greater emphasis on walking as a collective activity form of art has emerged, together with less certainly about the value of tying the meaning of the art walk to representative images ‘ Sharpe suggests that walking artists move away from sight and physical force and seek a greater emphasis on haptics, sound, memory and orality. This part of the essay links to my labyrinth work where I not only worked collaboratively in the design but then got the walkers to participate in walking the labyrinth.

Sharpe highlights that over the last century the type of work favoured is that of a participatory embodied experiences that generate no-normative ways of walking/traversing together thereby ‘cripping the flaneur’ However Fulton would argue that a photo of a Buzzard simply says buzzard, ‘what comes in to play is the simultaneously of senes. There is a certain sight, we hear the birds, we smell the brush, the wind whistles in the corner of the eyes from the direction of the setting sun.’

Sharpe feels that ‘the sight of the walker is related to the words the surround or appear in the image, since walking images rarely circulate without language to sustain them’. He links this back to psychogeography which he perceives might bridge the gap between sight and sense. He mentions the work of Ian Sinclair who talks about the feeling of the street. He then draws upon the work of Phil Smith who walks discover thoughts, feelings and textures and organic matter often takes the form of documentation, handbooks and exemplary objects designed to encourage others to undertake exploratory walking. I know a little of Ian Sinclair’ work, but much of his walking is done in an urban environment, whereas `I am researching the more rural nature of walking. The work of Phil Smith I may wish to delve into more as I too am creating documentation from my walk, so I may find some similarities with his work.

References:

Billinghurst, H., et al., (2020). Walking Bodies: Papers, Provocations, Actions from Walking’s New Movements, the Conference. Triarchy Press.

Heinkels : lost and forgotten

This particular idea was developed after seeing Anselm Kiefer’s war plane, shown to us in one of Antigonis lectures. On Lundy island in the Bristol Channel, there are site remains of two German Heinkel bombers which went down on Lundy in the second world war. Their remains can still be found, one is in the Centre of the island on a patch of land and is called the lost Heinkel and the one on the West side of the island is called the Forgotten Heinkel. The history of place is something that I keep coming back to in my research. With this project I wanted to link both the heinkels up with a walk, as I had no knowledge of either of the sites. With a lack of signposts I had to use traditional way markings, similar to that used by pilgrims i had to ask for topography directions. I was told that I would find the central one, four marker stones from halfway wall and the other would be found under Parrot Rock. I also had a map which the chef on the Island had photographed for me from a book Lundy’s War (1995)

Finding the first which is the lost Heinkel I could see the burnt out remains, albeit tempting to take some evidence some trophy, but this is what has happened over the years and there is less and less history remaining. Having found the lost Heinkel I wanted to draw up a line of walking to the Forgotten Heinkel. Finding the Forgotten Heinkel was an impossibility and like most of my pilgrimages and walks ends up with me getting lost or not locating the place of significance. Maybe this is why they say it is the journey not the destination when they talk about pilgrimages. On my return to the village I met the Assistant Warden who volunteered to take me out to find the forgotten Heinkel, so I double backed only to find that I had stood just in front of the heinkel and completely missed it.

These type of journeys are inspired by the work of Richard Long and Hamish Fulton both walking artists who are inspired either to create art in the landscape or as a result of being in the landscape.

As a creative practice I enjoy both being in the landscape and creating art in the landscape, However I am also finding that I am interested in representing that walk in some form or another back in the studio. Hence the reason why i wanted to represent the walk in a format that others could see and maybe help them to find the Heinkels too. So with the idea taken from Ed Ruscha’s photo book Twentysix Gasoline Stations I created a concertina book of the journey. This book is a mini book as can be seen below. This in itself can be a book and although it is meant to be an A5, the idea of the mini books as those created by Irma Boom is quite interesting in its own right.

Post Script: I have since discovered the work of Paul Nash, who was a landscape artist but was also a war artist. Some of his work includes crash sites of Heinkel Bombers whilst on London raids.

References:

Harman, M., and Gade, M., (1995). Lundy’s War: Memories of 1939-45 Compiled by Mary Gade and Michael Harman. Imprint unknown.

RICHARD LONG OFFICIAL (no date). [Online]. Available at http://www.richardlong.org/. [Accessed on 03/03/2021]

Vanishing Stones

I have been reading and listening to conversations with land artists such as Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, both are walking artists who create art in the landscape. I felt that I needed the tacit knowledge to explore first hand, the phenomenological experience of creating art, being in the landscape. Thinking about space and place, I chose the location of the Landing Bay on Lundy Island, particularly for the flat area of sand the availability of pebbles and the tidal line. I was conscious that as a Marine Conservation zone, I did not want to disturb the ecosystem. I wanted to create art that would be carried away by the sea on the incoming tide. This inspiration of tide came from Julie Brooks firestacks, Brooks works in remote locations (like Lundy). and how she connects fire and water is incredible to watch. Julie Brooks work was created in North Harris a place that `i have visited and appreciate its remoteness, not unlike Lundy Island.

Creating the artwork gave a connection to the environment; the smoothness of the pebbles washed by the many tides, each with their own individual markings. It was an enjoyable collaborative activity which felt tactile with the land in this case the beach. Visiting the site the next day, there were only a couple of stones remaining, demonstrating the tide and how it takes away what was there. There was not a feeling of sadness over the lost artwork, just one of knowing. The only memories that we had were in the photographs we took.

I reviewed some of the work by Hamish Fulton and how he uses text on the photographs from his walks. His quote ‘Leave Only Footsteps, Take Only Photographs’ bears lots of resonance with this work, in fact we did not even leave footprints.

As I had only photographs from the walk I decided to make an artwork based on a photograph taken at the time Reviewing the work of Hamish Fulton I see how he create mood by choosing black and white for his photographs. So using Adobe Lightroom I changed the image to black and white. I felt that the work needed text to resonate with the senses I wanted to create. I considered the actual text, in some of Fultons work he simply puts the location so I could have put Lundy, but then I felt it was too much like a postcard. I wanted to use text that referred to the fact that the artwork was transient and would disappear. ( I have read that Fulton believes the text to be as essential as the photograph and in fact carries a notebook with him on his walks, for this purpose). I sat looking at the photographs and referred back to composition and vanishing points. I looked at the landscape as an artist would, a suggestion offered by Maja and Reuben Fowkes (2006) .’..when admiring a natural landscape, we apply the same aesthetic conventions we use for appreciating a work of art’ The term Vanishing related to the Jetty in the distance (the vanishing point) and also I wanted to reflect that vanishing of the stones once the tide reaches its fullness. I played around with the typeface and wanted a sans serif typeface and felt that Helvetica Neue was a clean font. I also wanted the words to stack on top of each other so I used the Kerning tool to achieve this.

Reflection:

I feel that i should have sat there and recorded the time coming in. Maybe now I have learnt how to use Premiere Pro, I could record the event of the tide coming in on video.

This work moved away from my original research proposal which is about peregrination. However we did walk to the site with a purpose/intention of creating a stone circle. It does also resonate with the work of Richard Long who also undertook many pilgrimages which inspired his work. `it is about the Potential of place to represent an inner experience. A theme which i seem to keep coming back to.

Reference:

https://www.juliebrook.com

https://www.juliebrook.com/convers_rob_macfarlane.html

Maja, N. A., and Fowkes, R., (2006). Unframed landscapes: Nature in contemporary art | NeMe. [Online]. Available at http://www.neme.org/texts/unframed-landscapes. [Accessed on 08/11/2020]

A line of Granite

One of my volunteer roles is a Lundy Island ambassador, so I do take quite a few visits to the Island over the course of a normal year. Whilst on Lundy Island in December 2020, I decided to walk from St Helens Church in the village to the North Light, the route the Lighthouse keepers would have walked from the village to the Lighthouse on the North of the Island. Often this trip would be made in the traditional Lundy fog or at night, so marker stone were put in at regular points to help keep the Keepers on the path. I decided on one similar foggy day to photograph each of the marker stones. Marking my holy point of departure being the church, I walked the 3 miles. I took photos and wanted to count the number of stones, I lost count; but it was around 90. ( I have tried to count using google earth and most are visible but some less so, I asked the Lundy Field society if they knew, but they don’t either). These marker stones are made out of Lundy granite, most have been set there but others hewn from the actual Lundy rock where they stand.

I have used these stones of granite for a couple of my artwork pieces, However I wanted to focus on the nature of the granite and associate my work to the linear aspect that represented the long line of stones.

In the making of the work I had to learn how to crop out the rocks to remove the backgrounds which I did in Photoshop. I then took the images into photoshops and laid them out to create a page in indesign, which then was laid out in a format which would form a meandering book by simply cutting and folding. Problems encountered in making the book were ensuring that images and the small amount of text were the right way up, i mocked up a non digital format first which helped. The final outcome i am really pleased with, it works digitally. I would like to have extended the images and maybe this is something i can do when at college. The feedback I got was that there was more interplay and the participatory nature of and with the book than the concertina book that I created.

Reflection:

The final outcome i am pleased with, it works digitally. I would like to have extended the images to include more but the task was time consuming and I only had A4 paper. I could add text to it, maybe to represent the thoughts and feelings of the walk. Similar to Richard Long textworks.

The mini artist book is exciting and I could research the use of different paper and forms. I have also found there is a whole genre of miniature books. I do not yet feel that I have involved the nature of the granite. I wanted to focus on the nature of granite, so by cutting out the background the main focus became the rock and not the landscape. However by doing this I have cut out the foggy landscape and the feel of the walk. I have indeed now moved away from representing the feelings of the walk but more an outcome of the walk.

Mandalas

Fortunately I live by the Sea in North Devon, the beach has been my place to get fresh air and exercise during Covid-19 lockdown, especially as I have been able to take advantage of the sea with regular cold water swimming.  Inspired by the creation of land art, along with my photographer daughter Shena Ruth, we created a mandala with shells. The idea behind this is to research the potential of the landscape to create an inner experience. So what type of inner experience could be gained from creating in the landscape. Usually when I am on the beach I am walking or swimming, I struggle to sit especially in hot weather. I find calmness when painting or drawing in the studio, So I wanted to research whether creating in the landscape gave me the same calmness.

I chose to create a mandala  as they are often used in art therapy. The meaning of the word mandala in Sanskrit is circle.  The circular design of the mandala symbolises the idea that life is never ending and everything is connected, we decided to add the 8 offshoots to link with the 8 limbs of yoga. These include breathwork, concentration and meditation however ironically it also includes  pratyahara which is the withdrawal of the senses. Albeit this process might in the longer run heighten our senses?

Land art is art that is made directly in the landscape. Land art is varied and involves sculpting the land itself into earthworks such as the work Spiral Jetty created by Robert Smithson in the 1970’s. or making structures in the landscape using natural materials such as rocks or twigs as with artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and James Brunt. One area that I could delve into a little deeper is to investigate what inner experiences these named artists experience when creating art in the landscape.

When creating the mandala and and upon completion, I felt a strong link to psychogeography which is described by the Tate as the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behaviour of individuals. The emotion of creating this piece of art by being in the landscape was very much one of calmness. Not only the act of seeking shells but also just sitting on a remote part of the beach and just awakening the senses to the smell of the sea, the smell and sound of the sea birds and the feeling of the sand on the body.  

On showing the photographs from the mandala in a 1:1 tutorial with Richard Webb it was suggested that i should not include a photo of myself in the work but to create a triptych of the best 3 photographs. Also with the tutorial he suggested embossing. So back in the Studio I used both digital media editing the photographs in photoshop and placing them in Indesign but also wanted to incorporate some traditional printmaking. So using my x-cut machine I embossed the word calm to link the work in a tryptic with a colour palette to match. My next step was to put these in Indesign to create the image and now I am waiting for PCA to print my work in their Imprint lab.An alternative way to take this work forward would be to consider the work as Environmental art and addresses the social and political issues relating to the impact of pollution on the beaches or the effect climate might have on the dunescape. In a tutorial with Antigoni she directed me to the work In the Green line by Francis Alÿs I found the following quote intriguing ‘Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic.’ I can find kinship with this statement as working with shells as although it was meant as a contemplative activity for myself, i could develop this into an environmentally piece by including other images which might involve plastics washed up on the shore line.

I also wish to investigate maybe a completely embossed book such as that created by Irma Boom when creating NO. 5 CULTURE CHANEL, 2013. Embossing is more tactile than print on a page, so it adds that extra sense of feeling to a print. However once processed digitally the tactileness of the embossing is lost. I need to investigate further how a print can root to the senses.

Selecting shells for the Mandala

The Mandala prior to the 8 limbs being added

The Mandala with the 8 limbs added

Mandala Tryptic with embossing

Meanderlings

Welcome to meanderlings, this site came out of a desire to make sense of the research work I am creating for my MA in Printmaking at Plymouth College of Art. My original research proposal was to research pilgrimages, pilgrim routes and investigate the rise in the number of people walking pilgrim routes. To question what of this walk, this pilgrimage? are we merely walking or are we trying to connect the landscape to an inner experience. However lockdown presented me with a travel issue and my pilgrimage through Portugal to Santiago de compostela was put on hold. As an alternative I took the advice of the British Pilgrimage Trust (BPT) and started to bring the notion of pilgrimage closer to home with mini pilgrimages. By creating a destinatination of holy places, churches and specific sites and by adding an intention to my walks, I found that I could create my own mini pilgrimages. The BPT cite in the Guardian

‘structure your walk around a purpose unique to you, determined by your heart and activated by your feet. All of us usually have at least one question we want answering, something we want to bring into our lives, or let go of. So choose one intention from your many options, dedicate your daily walk to that purpose, and perhaps the world around you will start to resonate with it.

An offshoot of my proposal is how we can connect with specific places such as; Holy Wells places that we may come across on a route or by using them to plan a route. Also to question can a Holy Well create a space that society can use today? Can it be re-purposed or indeed used for its original purposes. The SouthWest has hundreds of Holy Wells, not all of them are classed as holy but some are simple springs. I hope that this blog will help me to contextualise my work and show the steps I have taken in the process of exploring and refining my research question. It will be a platform to identify strengths and weaknesses of my research proposal and show how I have engaged and experimented with different methods and approaches. It will show a body of work that inks together or takes a departure from my original research proposal. I will explain what and who are the inspirations behind the work and analyse what progress I feel that I have made in creating the work. My MA is in Printmaking so I need to come back to this method at each twist and turn.

References & Bibliography

How to turn your daily lockdown walk into a pilgrimage (no date). [Online]. Available at https://britishpilgrimage.org/how-to-turn-your-daily-walk-into-a-pilgrimage/?mc_cid=b5b5353c54&mc_eid=3dad3dd64c. [Accessed on 04/03/2021]

Guardian staff reporter, (13/01/2021). How intention turns a walk into a pilgrimage – plus 5 British pilgrim trails. The Guardian. The Guardian. [Online]. Available at http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/jan/13/how-intention-turns-a-walk-into-a-pilgrimage-5-british-walking-pilgrim-trails. [Accessed on 12/03/2021]

Hayward, G., and Mayhew-Smith, N., (2020). Britain’s Pilgrim Places: The first complete guide to every spiritual treasure. Heartwood Publishing.

Maja, N. A., and Fowkes, R., (no date). Unframed Landscapes: Nature in Contemporary Art | NeMe. [Online]. Available at http://www.neme.org/texts/unframed-landscapes. [Accessed on 08/11/2020]