Sometimes walking as an art practice leaves me lost with a sense that I have nothing to show. When I emphasise the location of the art as being in the experience of the walk, I find myself simultaneously resisting and craving tangibility. The blog might grapple with this dilemma and perhaps it will serve to make something subtly visible, both to myself and others.


In September 2019 I began a one year research masters at the Royal College of Art. The course was sliced in half by the pandemic, and my final project ‘Experiments with the edges of walking’ emerged out of the challenge to re-imagine a participatory practice in the context of human-to-human distancing.


It became apparent during periods of lockdown that walking offered a unique space of possibility. Previous works where I had facilitated simultaneous walks in different locations (e.g. If the cloud allows) took on an unanticipated significance, as if influenced by something yet to happen! The development of profound connections between people from a distance became interweaved with attempts to blur our human edges and acknowledge non-human agency.


The research embraced all meanings of edge: outer boundary, advantage, blade, almost. The walking experiments offered a container for a fluidity of enquiry where the unexpected was invited in and the linear processes of research and walking were disrupted.


I had shifted from walking as antidote, to exploring how our digital devices could mediate connection without defining it or stealing our attention. It has been a recurring pattern in my practice to pull away from the screen and find myself making work out of the inevitability of being pulled back in. The last year generated a most extreme version of this tug of war, with my previous tussles serving as a novice training ground.


I completed the MRes in October 2020 and during the following 6 months have taken a sceptical embrace of the enforced digital environment including an international online residency (A Glass Envelope), workshops for humans and plant guests, a collaborative audio walk linking Iraq and the UK and the start of a series of 52 weekly simultaneous walks without edges.

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An Open Call to Collectives is crisscrossing its way along the digital pathways to gather interest from Artist Collectives across the globe.

It is an invitation to create a page for a Compendium of Collective Practices, to explore the diversity of approaches to the idea of the Collective. Please receive it gently send it off in another direction. It is Potpourri.

As a way of breaking the word open, I am thinking about how collectivity connects to walking. I take a ceramic bowl for a walk. With the help and encouragement of the ceramicist Sandy Layton (part of our [esc] Collective), I made it with a small hole at its base. I thought I might carry sand that would escape through the hole to draw my path on the ground. But today I am collecting, and the hole is an escape route for anything tiny. I walk with the bowl cradled in my hands and for a moment I am a Buddhist nun dependent on the offerings of people encountered on the way. Collecting food as essential sustenance. I am letting go of deliberation, watching what draws me. The bowl fills

with stems, seedheads, lichen on a twig, flowers with delicate stamen, and when the seeds and pollen detach, they might exit through the hole and find the ground. Now I am close to the detail that the walk rushes past. A whole world in my little bowl, defying the default categories and bland generalisations that arise in the passing by.



This is walk no. 14 from ‘Walking Beyond Words’. Aya Hastwell who is facilitating the project with me has just returned to her family in Kazakhstan and chose this prompt because of her appreciation of the global connections created through people walking in different places. She invited us to send a photograph and a single word as a response to the Walk. She will collage them together.

I vowed to write for 10 minutes after each walk and to post regular blogs. There has been a long gap, an extended backstitch as I connect to the last post and link to the present again. A decision is made to take my 10 minute writing for today and place it into a public space. I will allow myself some leeway to amend what I have written and to let the ideas develop through the process of transferring from the hand-written to words on the screen. These are stitches into my memory of a recent walk, picking up threads of thought – a tacking of recollection onto the page (or screen).


A sewing pattern on the road near the school

A zig-zag

A straight stitch

Embroidered rectangles and stripes

It is a guide for when and where to tread

Tread of feet and tread of tyres


Feet push energy into the earth

Passing through tarmac paving

Downward and upwards forces

Repetitive stepping

Connecting here with there


Tree roots coming to the surface

and burying into the ground

Reaching out to each other

Binding the soil


Grass carpet

threads knotted

holding firm in the earth fabric

Reeds reach up

and out of the water

Lilly pads float on the surface,

anchored in the river bed


All types of stitching.

Barbed wire and grass weaving

French knots

Backstitching steps

forward and back

Cross-stitching car park

concrete grid with foliage

pushing up through the holes


Threads emerge from the earth material that nurtures the seed

Cotton thread originating in the ground

Willow puffs rolled between fingers


Steps in one place resonate with steps taken elsewhere

through the shared imagination

of a Walk that extends into the earth

and stitches us together


The prompt for this week’s walk arose out of a conversation with an artist and friend in Turkey (Ceyda Oskay) suggesting that she hand-print letters into a book to form our third poetry collage. We began talking about collaboration and books made from fabric, hand-printed or stitched into and taken for a walk. Houses became numbered books on pavement shelves each with its own unfinished story. I am walking along the outside edge of a private library where books can be borrowed by special invitation only. Parted curtains are teaser illustrations. On the flood plain the volumes are suspended above the water table and I walk to the forceful, rhythmic sound of the pile driver, compressing giant concrete blunt needles into the strata of the earth. No library hush here.

I step off the human-made shelf into mud. The straight lines of the catalogued world are replaced by a tangle of shoots, twigs and branches. The shelf is no longer stable and the edge between above and below is blurred. An intricate network of underground communications speaks from the past to the libraries of the future. Words on the screen have done enough for now and I reach for fabric and images from the walk that I printed out and ironed onto interfacing.  A sensory tussle ensues, sewing and unpicking the threads, re-sewing, pressing. Stitches reaching to the underside, catching loose threads. Sewing decisions mix with chance in a way that writing does not. The back and forth of walking, sewing and writing begins to feel like a means of balancing different ways of thinking, feeling and travelling, from one side to another.


Week 2 of Walking beyond words generated a poetry collage that demonstrated how meanings can shift dramatically through the choice of layering. The single word ‘Earthquake’ contributed from a walker in Turkey and used by another participant as the title of the poem, injected a friction into other people’s words. When words are gifted, how gently do we tread? These walks about our smallness and the interconnectedness of everything must inevitably take us beyond the walk as a relaxing, reflective activity and into the movement, muddiness and messiness of the earth.

I hoped that the walks would provide a springboard for my individual writing as well as enabling my contribution to the group poem to emerge.  The poem ‘Earthquake’ is not yet available for public circulation, but I reflect on the words that I formed together into my own shorter poem:

Walking in step with the pile-driver

Compacting into the earth,

The soles of my feet grow gravity roots

Holding me on the surface of a spinning sphere

Water dilutes earth into slippery mud

A liminal entry point into the ground

Blurring the edge between above and below

An unstable anchor.

Now I can see that the ‘Earthquake’ poem pushes deeper into the stuff that I had already tentatively prodded. The act of collaging the words perhaps has the power to reveal what we did not know was there or to push us deeper into our thinking.



Exploring our smallness and the interconnectedness of everything

Today is the beginning of Walking Beyond Words.

In this series of 52 weekly walks we are walking alone, knowing that others are walking also. It is a kind of solitary companionship, one that allows for the reflective, unpressured experience of solo walking, to be combined with the sense of belonging that comes from feeling part of a communal activity.

This best of both worlds has arisen through simultaneous walking activities during lockdown (e.g. Walks with[out] edges and PORTAL walks), but was also present in earlier collaborations such as ‘If the Cloud allows’ which involved people walking in a circle in Cambridge, UK and Basra, Iraq with a shared view of the moon.

The ecological themes emerging from earlier walks feed into the simple prompts for these walks which give the Walk an active role. They draw attention to the interactive, vibrant energy of everything in and around us.  The idea is that the prompts might help to reframe our walks and challenge our human-centred perspective.

The first walk is The Walk smiles at you.

Those who walk with the prompts are invited to send up to 10 words after the walk. These responses to the walk are formed into a poetry collage which is sent out with the prompt for the following week. Not everyone will walk each week or send words, and there is no pressure to participate. 20 people are currently receiving the weekly emails, including people in India, Turkey, the USA and the UK. Walkers are invited to suggest prompts and share the creation of the poetry collages.

The prompts are like little experiments. We might intimate from the responses, how they help us to re-imagine our connectedness. In this way we are researching how words can activate different experiences of walking.

This project is a collaboration between Aya Hastwell, Sally Stenton and all the walkers who are participating.

The project is affiliated to Experimental Space Collective [esc], an international, artist collective.

If you would like to find out more and/or join the project please get in touch via the contact page on my website.