Sunday 11th March: A Walk About Architecture and Things, Phil Smith

The walk was surprisingly personal for me. I tried something I have been wanting to for a while. To break away from the prepared (and rehearsed) walk. So I chose an area I did not know well, having walked through it just the once before, a while ago, and a starting point about which I knew very little, but had something – an art deco-ish ornamentation with devils with breasts – that could be a pushing off point. I had no particular theme in mind. I had brought with me various objects – a snowglobe, some raffia-like tape, lobster toy, and so on – most of which I did not use. We did not move very far, over almost 2 hours we covered a couple of hundred metres; I think we probably journeyed further looking for a bar after the walk. Despite the corporate and controlled nature of the space (sometimes because of it) the textures of the spaces were very rich: its prohibitions, world-visions, little gifts (the child’s message that generated such varied interpretations) and draincover symbols. I was surprised how certain shapes threw up such personal associations for me; I have no autobiographical connection with the area and yet kept snagging on the wrinkles in the space. I enjoyed the way that some things performed for us – the TESCO delivery van that reversed across our vision and provided us with a food and produce map of Britain to question – and how other spaces took some effort to squeeze a hint from. It was quite a cold day, perhaps that helped in finding a calmness as we contemplated broken human figures, sewage, the spectacle of state terror, the unreliable origins of freemasonry, among other things. Meaningfulness seemed to be important; how the seemingly trivial, banal, vague or routine in imagery or materials can disguise eccentricity, venal intentions, deep emotions and the numinous.

-Phil Smith (words)

-Liberty Rowley (images)