Walk and Think – It’s an Exploration

This is the second in a series of three blogs from our Evolving in Conversation partners – Photoworks, New Writing South and South East Dance. Find out more about the project from their perspective. Join us at our showcase day on Saturday 30th May at Jubilee Library.

“Tell me how you walk and I’ll tell you who you are” (Geoff Nicolson, 2010)

A partnership between South East Dance and Brighton and Hove City Libraries, Cohesion is the final phase of the Evolving in Conversation project, which aims to engage communities who do not commonly participate in arts activities and/or with libraries. Evolving in Conversation consists of three overlapping projects, led by three arts organisations working with different art forms. Each project inspires the next, as the resources, thoughts and experiences are carried forward. They all explore the stimulating theme ‘How Individuals Make Society Change’. In collaboration with innovative choreographer Charlotte Spencer and other creative professionals, Evolving in Conversation is currently running a series of workshops to make us think differently about our physical experiences and how our bodies can help change and make an impact on the world around us.

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Recently, I participated in a day of interactive activities run by leading choreographer Charlotte Spencer and sound artist Tristan Shorr centred around Spencer’s inclusive and inviting audio walk ‘Walking Stories’ and David Sheppard’s audio trail through Jubilee Library. Each work encouraged us to explore how walking can adopt another usage or become a type of exploration, by providing a series of anecdotes, poetic memoirs and instructive tasks, which support the idea of discovering one’s own individual journey. When investigating the everyday practice of walking, it became apparent that this action has its functional usage, whether efficiently transporting us through landscapes to our desired destinations or providing us with mobility when carrying out our everyday routines. This leads to the question of what other opportunities can a walk provide? Both journeys suggested new ways I could interact with my environment, which mixed themes of biographical, familial, topographical, and archaeological. These routes became an investigation of travel and guided each participant to consciously engage with their surroundings. They each supplied a new thinking on our habitual movement patterns of walking and brought a significance to the walker’s journey and proposes that we once again discover our surroundings on foot.

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‘Walking Stories’ changed our course of movement through the city of Brighton and gave many participants a new awareness of how we travel through a city other than by finding the most efficient route to our destinations. Within the walk I began to develop a sense of self, which gave me agency to become creative with my spatial patterns. The journey provided each walker with a series of spontaneous interactions with their surroundings and invitations, with a choice whether to walk till…look for? Or find a new? This structuring of the route offered the walkers a framework for our travels to become individualized, granting us with the ability to improvise and introduce a new dynamic to the journey. A fellow walker commented that these explorative tasks “enriched their sensory experience of their environment” As I noticed a new circulation in the space appeared along hearing text, I started to realize that these new mappings, though traceable in the moment, became erased by the next walker when treading upon the same surface; this reminded me that movement is temporal.

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For one hour, I was part of a temporary mobile community. This created moments of shared interaction at points in our separate journeys and affected the space, as visually new spatial formations were made and proximities shifted. I noticed the bodily co-presence of people who happened to be in that place at that time, doing activities together and through each walker’s participation, this created a personal account of experience and of place.

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After ‘Walking Stories; we experienced David Sheppard’s trail as a place to enter and walk many different routes, travel in different ways and discover new experiences within the Jubilee Library perimeters. The combination of both walks left me feeling inspired, confident and empowered to make my own experience and begin my trail. Led by Charlotte Spencer’s task to design and record our own movement score for Jubilee Library, I began to explore the relationship between walking and writing. I annotated some pathways and illustrated the qualities of space, associated with my actions. I started to feel an embodiment of my illustrations and traces, depicting my own trail of walking. As these creative possibilities presented themselves, I started mapping my own individual route through space. My colleague Emily mentioned the joy she felt from writing and that she surprised herself at how much she enjoyed it and her ability to produce a piece of work, which she never thought would happen. She came out feeling nourished and enriched. This supports that each workshop participant left with a sense of ownership of their travels and establishes a relationship between the participants’ journeys and their individual interpretations and bodily responses.

As a dancer, mover and thinker, you are always ‘in movement’ both in mind and body. So you choose your walks, paths and thoughts, and they become fluid and dynamic, not static.  In a sense the writing, like walking, has been a process. It has been a discovery of mind and body as they have complemented and stimulated one another. The Evolving in Conversation project continues with four free workshops facilitated by leading choreographer Charlotte Spencer and creative professionals throughout May at Jubilee Library, Brighton for adults and young people. I hope to encourage you to take your time to discover this city by foot and therefore begin to construct your own route.

Written by Jessica Lucy Richards

Public Programmes Administrator

South East Dance

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