In my recent foray back into sewing I am drawn repeatedly to the wrong side of the fabric and it prompts me to look under other surfaces to the underside, inside, the hidden untidiness of human and unhuman life. How might printing, stitching and weaving enable a physical investigation of the wrong side, allowing any of its potential meanings and implications to jostle together within the wider ecology?  Does a tree have a right and wrong side? What does bark, skin, or coverings or fur or hair look like from the inside. What happens when a surface is turned inside out?

During lockdown I felt the need for more tangible outcomes.  Alongside walking as an ecological and participatory practice, I have been connecting back to material making, particularly in relation to textiles. It feels like a transition phase where I am discovering ways to fuse these approaches to enhance both. I am excited by the possibilities of textiles in relation to walking. How material might be made from the walk and taken for a walk. How the ‘wrong’ side might be on the outside.

Open plan walk…house, screen and sewing machine.


A word lands on a tree.

It means nothing

apart from its weight, texture, temperature, moistness

…. its possibility of integration.

I lost my journal and picked up another hoping it would be the missing book. I opened it to find these words on the paper pages. The date of the entry is February 2020. Recently I posed the question ‘What does theory feel like to a tree?’ and I had completely forgotten the previous musings which were undoubtedly precursors to an idea that appeared to come from nowhere in particular. A few months before, in November 2019, I had taken back-tracking as the focus of my residency at Joya Air in and walking had become a metaphor for the retracing of ideas and notions of returning to a place that is never the same.

A couple of pages further on I find a drawing of a bowl, above which is written ‘correction’ and below, ‘using the vessel to carry the part of us that we do not want to own’. I do not know what prompted this thought or where it took me at the time. Now the statement is provocative, maybe for different reasons.

The idea of walking with a vessel was central to a walk that I was working on with Mud Collective at the time. It was about to be cancelled due to the emerging covid pandemic. It occurs to me that jumping back to pick up previous threads whose meanings and significance have been morphed by subsequent events has been evident in my practice. Sometimes it seems like reverse causality. The journals have become vessels.


I now have over 50 of these black A5 books full of (mainly) words and sometimes drawings. The chance encounters with their pages might enable an overlay of ideas across time, a back and forth to generate new possibilities from a fusion of past and present. I imagine them piled up in my studio. What if each day I open the top book at random and when I have finished with the idea, I place it adjacent to create a new pile?… and so the looping continues.


Thinking about ideas of smooth and striated space (Deleuze) in relation to walking connects back to experiences of felt-making. 10 years ago I disassembled the process and materials to create objects and installations, and later activated the materials through moving image. I used striated fabric (netting) to make unstructured, smooth fabric (felt). Since then the language of weaving rather than felt-making has served as a metaphor for the crossing of paths and intersections of ideas. All analogy is approximate, but felt might be more like mud in its non-linear structure. What metaphors can replace strands of thought, the thread of an idea? I might try felting with mud to see what arises.


Walking in smooth space might disrupt the linear inertia of walking. An  interplay between fluidity and grid.


The weekly walk with[out] edges at 7.30am this morning was ‘A walk that sees below the surface of the earth’. It connected unexpectedly with my drawing of tree roots during the workshop with Dilip Sur and with the plan I had formed, but not yet executed, to draw a tree upside down. I ceased to walk on a solid, static surface. Below was more life than above. Other people were walking at the same time in other places, all trying to see beneath the surface. Now I realise that this would be the direction of the shortest distance between us.


I began a drawing with roots at the base and then I turned it upside down and continued. I had checked the internet for clues about the depth and spread of tree roots. They may spread further than the canopy of the tree, but in weight they are lighter. I felt my way into the drawing. Trunk and branches growing from the inside and roots reaching for water and nutrients. The physicality of the process resonated with the embodied act of walking.

I have uploaded my drawing for another artist (Aya Hastwell) to fuse with other people’s words and images to create the weekly collage. We are walking every week for a year with a different prompt each week and this will be the 26th collage. We are half-way there.


Dilip Sur in a recent drawing workshop talked about drawing ‘inside out’ to explore what it is that is being drawn, not to represent, but to enquire into being. I looked out of the window and chose a weeping birch tree. The unseen roots became vast and extensive. The cracks creating the texture of the bark were like happenings, re-imagined by the charcoal. The tree spiralled out from the centre of its branches.


The limited imagination of roots was humbling. To confirm the failure, I inverted the drawings to see if the roots might resemble the branches above ground and pledged to draw the trees upside down as the next exercise and to find a way for the trees to extend beyond the confines of the paper. Dilip spoke of the metaphor of the tree, the necessity of  strong roots and I thought about the bronze age timber circle, given the name ‘Seahenge’ with an upturned tree stump at its centre, the branches  of the tree reaching down into another world. I had created a performance piece with Judy Nakazato in 2016 called The Listening Stick that voiced the conflicting responses to its excavation in 1999.


This process of drawing was resonating unexpectedly with other spheres of my practice and the next day during another drawing activity I recalled Dilip’s quote from  Nietzsche:

One must have chaos to be able to give birth to a dancing star” — Friedrich Nietzsche

I drew chaotically, responding to my own marks by trying to create some kind of order and new meaning from the chaos.


What might it mean to bring chaos into walking?