Only six weeks till my departure to Le Havre.
I have had some time to reflect upon the opportunities and other issues that will possibly be rearing their heads on this residency.

Calling upon my past experience of walking which is usually in the countryside or mountains walking in a city will be very different. Probably quite uncomfortable – not physically but emotionally and for my ‘Elan Vital’.  I will have to engage a very different head.

These are a few of the questions I have been pondering upon:

What kit do I need?
What should I take?
What do I need to consider for comfort?
What do I need to include to enable whatever to result?

I have learnt that trying to second guess what may happen is probably never a good plan – it then fixes ones brain and then becomes hard to un-do. Flexibility is the key however…..

I have had time to consider what I don’t need: 
Heavy Boots
Compass – although this could be useful to orientate myself
Full waterproofs – an umbrella will be fine
Sleeping bag
Sleeping mat
Cooking stove
Spare food – although a muesli bar will be handy
Spare clothes

What I think I will need:
Carnet de Voyage/Sketch book
Pencils/pen ( I tend to use an ink pen for notes/sketches)
Small pan water colours
small brush and flat 1/2inch wide brush
Fuji x100T rangefinder
Olympus Trip film camera (TBD)
Probably a small Manfrotto tripod for shooting at dawn/dark (February when I have this placement)
Warm jumper
Study shoes
Although I am comfortable with French a wee dictionary is always useful!

My hosts from Le Havre will make me most welcome no doubt.
So……I have decided not to treat this as I would my other walks. I did consider it otherwise but prefer to look at it completely differently to have an alternative experience altogether.
I have looked at the idea of ‘The Flaneur’ as per French poet Charles Baudelaire’s essay The Painter of Modern Life 1863

“Il a cherché partout la beauté passagère, fugace, de la vie présente, le caractère de ce que le lecteur nous a permis d’appeler la modernité. Souvent bizarre, violent, excessif, mais toujours poétique, il a su concentrer dans ses dessins la saveur amère ou capiteuse du vin de la Vie”

but this can be decided at a later date.

I went back and re-studied the work of my pal John Riddy 

and talked to him about wandering through cities and coming across moments of what one looks for.

I have recently read 3 of his books:

John Riddy  2000 Camden Arts Centre London
Praeterita     2000 Ruskin School Oxford
Views from Shin-Fuji 2008 Frith Street Publishers London

Plenty to consider here regarding city/views/moments/journey

It just making  time now to consider what track/tack I may take.



As per last year’s blog interview with Richard Taylor most of my practice is self funded. There are exceptions however in working this way I can choose how and why I want to work and how and why it engages with my practice. The summer I have, as usual, been teaching scything and traditional haymaking. This means long hours in remote meadows often living on/off the land under canvas and cooking on open fires. It is quite an itinerant life not dissimilar to my walking practice.

Responding to the moment and going with the flow of nature and the weather.

What I have found more recently is that my creative skills are more engaged than ever before. Thinking around teaching methodology and the actual process of working/tending the land. I have begun to trust the the moment and what it brings. I probably annoy land owners by not being specific enough with the outcomes – knowing only that I have a set amount of time and the target is to get the hay ‘in’. Of course this depends upon the weather and how many folks are helping.

The most interesting thing I have noticed is that the ricks I am building are becoming more organic and sculptural.This process starts with scything, creating windrows, turning the grass to make hay, cocking up if the weather turns, finding and building a frame from local hedgerow wood and then creating the rick – an outdoor hay store which can least up to five years. These become characters left behind in the landscape. I need to think more about this as regards my artistic practice and how it has become holistic within my whole way of being an artist.


This June /July I walked across Albania, Macedonia and Greece to the International’s Walking Encounters Conference to give a paper.

This blog is not about the conference – you can find this info here:


This piece is about stories and images and text. In fact it isn’t really.

My experiences of walking over land  that is in constant flux due to arbitrary markings on a map leads me to numerous stories and experiences.

For many people there is a fear of engaging with the land thus. On a big walk such as this, with little mapping and reliance on past skills, hope and a compass my practice was tested as much as my self-knowledge, practical skills, belief and trust.

One cannot really prepare for such an experience. Like all good stories there is a structure although I have to admit I wondered what the structure was. It was during the European heat wave and I was also having to deal with daily temperatures of 39 degrees in the high mountains – over 2400metres. Somedays I just walked because that was all I could do. My search for water was a challenge at times.

People were kind, supportive and interested and in Albania, in small peasant villages I was never asked where I was from. It was always

“Where are you going?”

There was no judgement, just a passing of the day. An understanding, I felt, that we are all ‘passers through’. The land will be here forever – we won’t.





So last year land burned.  Up on the Roaches, like many areas of the Peak District wild fires took hold, this one was caused by a failed portable barbecue. It changes the under-foot. This creates new vistas and damages biodiversity. The smell, if you get close enough, kneel down try, it is still there. Plants holding onto rocks now just skeletons and sculptures of past living forms. The peat dusty and friable. The winter rains just washed off.  Above and below.

This land is changed and although new growth will come, indeed it has already, there is slow progress of renewal.

This is relative to my practice, walking and image making. A temporal act. The pace of which allows looking, examining and time to kneel and breathe the earth.


Finding space and moving through, by, over is never going to be straight forward. Environmental aesthetics will be called into question as a walking artist. The impossibility of creating an image of/with the experience will forever be thus.

Taking ownership of the experience is easy but then owning it is not as easy at it sounds. The experience has happened, the evidence is only what one has through it – a passing temporality – nothing solid.

I walked across the Roaches (Peak District) recently. I had forgotten about the moorland fires of last year. The ground still scored, dotted with new growth and in the sky a mournful call of a Curlew holding territory.

I stopped and knelt down, smelling the burnt peat. It filled me, flooding my passages, memories came flooding back.

I looked up, and watched the hikers and other families tread the path.