Electricity in public space starts in Brixton then moves into the future along Electric Avenue (Oxford Street of the South). We follow it back to its source by night via samosas, the off licence, the once wild Clapham Common, the best of British architecture and the worst of it, David Bowie and Eddie Grant. Walk run dance. Continue reading →
In what could have been described as a ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’ walk from the RCA Kensington campus to the Battersea campus, we gathered a group of walkers ready to flock together. We were to travel down the streets of Kensington and Chelsea toward and over the Thames, to the bridge where the starlings of London roost, murmurating above the rush hour traffic.
A select and hardy group of wind-whipped Walkativists defied the exceptionally cold weather on Sunday 18th March to gather with walking arts collaborators Noble & King under an oak tree in a Bloomsbury graveyard. This solitary and paradoxically ancient young English Oak in St George’s Gardens served as both a literal and metaphoric starting point for a wild goose chase around the landscape of Bloomsbury. The walk – (Or)landscape(s) – an allusion to Bloomsberian Virginia Woolf’s time travelling and gender switching protagonist in the novel Orlando, but also loosely inspired by the episodic mise-en-scène in Sally Potter screen version – was structured around a performative and dialogic narrative that drew upon literary, historical and psychogeographic quotation as well as palimpsestic and serendipitous fragments encountered by the walkers along the route. Continue reading →
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.
After the snow and biting cold of the preceding week the comparatively balmy weather of Sunday morning was a relief for the group of walkers gathered in Richmond Park. This walk was to be somewhat unusual for the Walkative schedule being eight miles through parkland with not a pavement in sight: a circular walk around Richmond Park. The concept of the walk was to examine the ecological characteristics of the park’s environment, its history as a royal park founded on confiscated land, and the experience of following this wall — originally built by Charles I — all the way around until we arrived back at Richmond Gate.
Over the next few hours we followed the paths as close to the wall as we could, at times through mud and on makeshift bridges over small streams. There were sightings of deer, frozen ponds, and ancient trees. We talked about fractured landscapes and fractured monarchy, always with the wall on our left until we arrived back at the beginning. Continue reading →
Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough – Dr Faustus
The death of Christopher Marlowe is one of the most bewildering stories in the history of English literature. Though Marlowe was murdered by government agents in a government safehouse in Deptford Strand, it was misrepresented as a pub brawl, a myth that persists to this day. Join poet Niall McDevitt for a thoroughgoing exploration of the story, and immersion in Elizabethan history, with a stunning riverside backdrop. We will begin at Island Gardens at the so-called ‘Omphalos’ of the Isle of Dogs; walk under the Thames – yes! – to Greenwich Palace; visit the site of Marlowe’s death and coroner’s inquest; and see his burial place in a pauper’s grave in Deptford Green. We will finish by discussing the 1001 Marlowe conspiracy theories in a Wetherspoon pub in Surrey Quays – hopefully without any poets being murdered. Continue reading →
The December 10th walk around the Barbican: No Dogs Allowed was unfortunately affected by the adverse weather conditions and only a small number braved the cold and frequent snow showers. Though the Barbican, in such conditions can exhibit all the vigour of its modernist concrete scheme, especially in its ambitious scale and magnitude, on this very cold and snowy Sunday it seemed particularly soulless and dystopic in character. We therefore decided to cut our losses after a short while and head for the nearest warm cafe.
Fast forward to January and the first Sunday after the beginning of term and the No Dogs Allowed has been rescheduled. Continue reading →