Walking to Work...

(An illustrated paper to be presented at the Of the Earth Conference, at Plymouth University, 24-25 October 2014)

Abstract: In examining how walking informs my own work, this illustrated paper will argue for a reappraisal of the parochial and specifically how walking and working close to home can contribute to and inform creative visual practice. Walking to work or – walking to make pictures - was dually provoked by a growing sense of (dis)ease with the amount of time I was spending studio and screen based and also by my home town making the front cover of the Monty Cantsin’s Greetings From Shitsville UK.

By drawing upon earlier writings by John Piper, Benjamin Britten and Stevie Smith, I came to realise I had capitulated far too soon to slack assumptions that my parish was a creative wasteland (or from Cantsin’s perspective - ‘shitsville’) and that by retreating to the studio and screen I could somehow cunningly circumnavigate parochial perils. The parochial too frequently connotes the mundane, the insular, the unaspirational and a concern for the fundamentally ordinary. Such a stance is amplified still further when the local is a prosaic town on an unromantic Isle commonly referred to as Thanitos – Isle of the Dead. 

Initial creative recalibration to the local produced work such as Landscape with Fragmented Forms signify the fractured relationship I was experiencing with place and space as I walked the Isle. But over time, the pedestrian rhythm of daily walks to work brought not only space to think but also a realisation that my once dislocated practice had relocated to be profitably close to home. As Piper would argue, I had shifted from being on to being within the landscape The outcome, as this paper will explore, has been the long-term photographic project The Jettywhich adopts a perspective that is at once subjectively ‘at home’ and yet non-subjectively placed at an observational distance.