Melting into Air

6 Sep

Its been a while … most of my time and energy in the last year or so has been devoted to my family and my ongoing BA in Creative Art, which has its own learning log.  I’m putting together my degree show which will be a reflection on life of work in the Shrewsbury Business Park alongside the rural urban fringe of Springfield and my walk to work along the cycle track that was the Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth Railway… and maybe some deeper stuff.

In the meantime, I have left employment as environmental consultant with a global business.  Rather than a major change for me, I see it more of a continuation of following my beliefs.  The company I once knew, whilst still doing good work in promoting sustainability, had, as a result of a series of takeovers, changed into something I no longer truly believed in.  So now I am focusing on my art practice and more community based art and environmental work.  The ripple effect can sometimes work wonders from grass roots…

During the latter years of my work at the business park, the 50 minute walk to and from work became something I clung to as a means of remaining grounded in time and space.  The office environment of email, teleconferences, travel and virtual space tends to dislocate people from their surroundings and from real time.  The walk also became a form of activism or protest against the tyranny of the car and out of town development (and trendy cycling is not much better, although I do ride my bike occasionally) .  Well discussed in the essays “Edge City” by Paul Barker and “Carmageddon” by John Adams in the collection edited by Anthony Barnett and Roger Scruton entitled “Town and Country”.  As the number of people expanded in our office, we had to rent additional parking space at the local cricket ground about five minutes walk away, so the journey to work by car could become something of a frustration.

Having realised some years ago now, that my interest in walking the edgelands was driven by a fascination with psychogeography, I went further into its origins with Debord and the Situationists and earlier roots going back through the Surrealists to Baudelaire, Blake, de Quincey, and Defoe as described by Melvin Coverley in his book “Psychogeography”.  More recently, shortly after it was published in July 2015, I read the excellent book “Walking Inside Out” by Tina Richardson (who writes a great blog too at http://particulations.blogspot.co.uk/).

In her commentary and compilation of essays from a variety of sources, Dr Richardson takes a comprehensive state-of-the-art view of what contemporary psychogeography is and how practitioners operate. Psychogeography has splintered into numerous walking “practices” each with its own title/terminology, and so its definition necessarily has blurred boundaries.  I haven’t been consciously “doing” psychogeography but my practice does seem to fall within these blurred boundaries.

During my walks (usually about twice per week), I documented the seasonal changes, and ever more subtle details of urban fabric with photographs and sometimes writing.  My photographs captured something of how I responded to the environment I saw changing over time.  My route varied depending on whether I fancied a more uptempo urban stride through the town or more peaceful walk alongside the River Severn, or through the Rea Brook valley.  So not strictly a derive since I definitely had to get from A to B, but I could meander via many permutations of routes.

It was a walk to and from work, not a photography expedition – so not technically great photos.  I quite like the spontaneity of some of the images though.  Some of these photographs inform the paintings I am producing for my forthcoming exhibition, and they will feature more directly in a book which will accompany the exhibition.

Here is a small selection, roughly chronological:

Since finishing at the Business Park, and with no particular routine other than the days when I take Eliza to school, I’ve missed the walk.  So I have introduced an occasional detour in the morning back from school around a route past Charles Darwin’s house when he was a boy, his family garden and around the River through Frankwell and back home.  Hoping to take inspiration perhaps from Darwin’s own well trodden paths.  More on this later…

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